Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
3 minute read
5 Jul 2022
6:55 pm

It’s all part of the plan, says Nienaber, after giving Boks a shake

Ross Roche

Nienaber insisted the team selection wasn’t sprung on the players, and was part of the plan ahead of the season.

Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane will make his first international start of the season in the second Test against Wales this weekend. Picture: Gallo Images

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber threw a massive curveball on Tuesday afternoon by naming a much changed team for the second Test against Wales at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

During his tenure, Nienaber has been known for his safe team selections, tending to stick to an experienced group of regulars, while making few changes between games.

However, that all went out the window in a surprising team announcement, with 14 changes made to the run-on side, Eben Etzebeth being the only survivor from the first Test win, with a further five new faces on the bench, making for 19 changes from last week’s match 23.

Subs Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch are the other survivors on the bench from last weekend, while first Test hero Damian Willemse drops to the bench as well.

Handre Pollard makes a return to the starting line-up after missing out on the first Test and will captain the team, while breakout URC star Evan Roos gets his debut at number eight.

ALSO READ: Plenty to work on for Boks in next two games against Wales

Marcell Coetzee, Warrick Gelant and Andre Esterhuizen also make welcome returns to the Bok fold, having been out of the squad for a few years.

In all, six debutants have been named in the match 23. Along with Roos, Kurt-Lee Arendse gets a chance to start on the wing, while Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ruan Nortje, Deon Fourie and Grant Williams are all included on the bench.

This announcement signals a big change in mindset for the Bok management, who have been pretty consistent over the past few years, although Nienaber explained that they had full confidence in the side selected.

ALSO READ: Starved Bok wings hope for more ball in coming Tests

“We want to build momentum and our biggest strategic objective is to win, so we pick a side because we believe they can beat Wales,” Nienaber said.

“You could ask why don’t we wrap up the series and then give them a go in the last Test, but we want to see how these players perform under pressure.

“If we are going to take them to a World Cup (next year), if we are going to play them against New Zealand, they must be able to perform under pressure.”

Planned changes

Nienaber also insisted the team selection wasn’t sprung on the players and was always the plan from the start of the season, but whether they were able to implement that plan had been dependent on the team doing the business in the first Test.

ALSO READ: Four Tests confirmed as Springboks’ year-end tour takes shape

“The team that played on Saturday made this possible. We had a plan with all 42 players in the squad and we told them about it from day one,” Nienaber said.

“So everybody knew this was the plan but obviously you don’t know if it will be doable and if you can execute it. The win on Saturday gave us this opportunity.”