Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
17 Nov 2021
12:24 pm

Settled England team will be hard to beat, admits Nienaber

Ross Roche

The hosts head into the match with good momentum after a thumping win against Tonga and a comfortable victory over Australia.

Jacques Nienaber looks on ahead of South Africa's recent match against Wales on their UK tour. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber fully respects the challenge that England will bring to their match at Twickenham on Saturday, with his team aiming to make it a clean sweep of wins on their UK tour.

The Bok management face familiar coaching foes in Eddie Jones, who will be trying to mastermind a reversal of fortunes from the teams’ last meeting in the 2019 World Cup final, and former Bok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot who is in charge of the England pack.

“I think Eddie is a brilliant coach. I have coached against him a couple of times and obviously he knows South Africa quite well, having been involved with the Boks in 2007, so he will have a good understanding of how we operate and it is going to be a big challenge for us on the weekend,” admitted Nienaber.

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England, however, were dealt two blows ahead of the game with the loss of centre Owen Farrell and hooker Jamie George, but with the Boks having had their own injury struggles, Nienaber believes it is a problem that all international sides are currently facing.

“It is a big loss for them, as it would have been for us losing a hooker and a centre, but all the international teams are in the same position,” Nienaber said.

“We are without Frans Malherbe, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe, who would all be in line for the match 23.

“So all teams are struggling with injury woes at the moment, but I think the quality of England is that they have nice young talent coming into their system and they have good pathways, so it will be a challenge for us.”

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The core of the England squad is also the same group that did battle during the 2019 showpiece event, so it is a well settled squad with plenty of experience, and they will be gunning to pick up a big win against the world champions and current top-ranked team.

The hosts head into the match with good momentum after a thumping win against Tonga and a comfortable victory over Australia, and they will hope that gives them a boost for this weekend’s clash.

“The England against Australia game just showed the class of England. If you look at the squad there are some young players, but if you look at the spine there are a number of old hands involved,” Nienaber said.

“Joe Marler is back in the mix against us, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Courtney Lawes, they all played in the World Cup final against us, so they are an experienced team and know what they have to do to get results.

“There is some youth and inexperience on the fringes coming into the side, but I think the core of the team is the same that beat New Zealand in the semifinal and played us in the final.”