The Springbok management will be walking a player welfare tightrope over the coming 18 months as they try and get their larger squad fully prepared for the 2023 World Cup in France.
With the first Bok alignment camp of the season having just been held in Durban earlier this week, coach Jacques Nienaber was asked how he plans to manage the players’ workloads over the next year and a half in the build up to the showpiece event, where the Boks will be defending champions.
“We have a performance plan that we put out and we will be transparent with the players and tell them this is how we are looking at things,” explained Nienaber.
“We would like to try and get some more experience and squad depth, but this will fully rely on the performance of the players. Our plan is to try and rotate some of our back up players with our main team in certain games.”
Nienaber continued: “We are not taking Wales lightly (who the Bok splay in three Tests in July). But an ideal opportunity will be like in 2018, when we played England in a three Test series in South Africa.
“If you can win the first two Test matches it opens up the opportunity to get rotation in for the last Test match.
“But we also don’t want to lose momentum. So we want to rotate as much as possible without compromising momentum. So that’s the balance we have to get right.”
A full strength Bok team is thus set to front up against Wales in the first two games of the incoming tour in Pretoria and Bloemfontein and should they pick up wins to seal the series early, a rotational team will step in for the match in Cape Town.
However, if the Boks lose one of the first two games, the chances of a rotational side playing diminishes substantially.
“I think momentum is the most important aspect for us. If you don’t have winning momentum and confidence in your squad it’s hard to introduce players into that environment,” said Nienaber.
“If we lost one of the first two Tests, it means the last is then a final and you don’t want to lose a series against Wales for the sake of rotating, when you rather want to build momentum.
“So a lot of that will come down to the players putting in the performances in the first two matches to give us the freedom to rotate in the last game.”