Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
21 Oct 2021
6:38 am

Nienaber: UK tour will be like Springboks v Lions — Part 2

Ross Roche

The Boks will be up against several players who featured for the Lions in the three Tests in South Africa in July and August.

The Springboks, winners against the Lions in July and August, will face several of the tourists' players in their Tests against Wales, Scotland and England next month. Picture: EJ Langner/Gallo Images

The Springboks are set for a tough UK challenge when they come up against Wales, Scotland and England in their end of year tour next month.

The Boks start their tour against Wales in Cardiff, then move onto Edinburgh in Scotland before finishing up against England at Twickenham in London, with all three sides having selected strong squads that will put the Boks abilities to the test.

“This Northern Hemisphere tour is going to be a big challenge for us, especially if you go and look at the squads that the coaches have selected,” admitted coach Jacques Nienaber.

“Wales is a team that are getting eight British and Irish Lions players back and if you look at their squad they have massive experience. Of the three 10s they picked in the squad Gareth Anscombe is the guy with the least experience and he’s got 35 Test caps, the other guy is close to 50 and Dan (Biggar) is close to a hundred.

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“So experience is going to be a massive challenge. They also have very good game drivers like Ken Owens and Alun Wyn Jones. But if you look at all three teams including Scotland and England, experience is going to be key.

“Even though Eddie (Jones) has chosen a younger squad if you look at the spine, you see (Luke) Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itjoe, (Ben) Youngs, (Owen) Farrell, Johnny May on the one wing.

“Scotland has (Ali) Price, Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, Duhan (van der Merwe) who all speak for themselves, so they have quality players and that will be a challenge for our outside backs.”

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The Boks will also be targeting a first unbeaten European tour since 2013 (when they beat Wales, Scotland and France) on their three match tour, with them eager to build some momentum into next year and looking ahead to the 2023 World Cup.

“We haven’t won all three in almost a decade, so it is a big challenge for us,” said Nienaber. “That is also why we selected this squad, we are 20 Test matches out from the 2023 World Cup, so I think the big thing for us is to build continuity, consistency and improve our game.

“We lost a lot of momentum by not participating in any international rugby in 2020, so it’s almost trying to build on our game, get better at what we are trying to do, see where there are opportunities to evolve. Also, I think it’s a good opportunity to get used to some of the conditions we might see in 2023.”