Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has touched on the struggles of coaches and players in an unforgiving results-driven rugby environment, ahead of his team’s opening Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks in Mbombela on Saturday.
The visitors are currently going through a poor run of form, having lost four of their last five games and coach Ian Foster is under the microscope after losing the home series against Ireland last month and now playing the Boks twice in South Africa.
However, Nienaber admits it’s all part of the game and something they have to live with and not dwell on too much.
“As coaches and players we know that representing your country, especially in countries that have a rich rugby tradition like South Africa and New Zealand, there is always going to be pressure whether you are a coach or a player,” said Nienaber.
“You are two poor games away from being dropped or fired, and that’s the reality and one lives with that.
“We just have to face reality. We have no control on what they (New Zealand) are feeling (at the moment). So to spend energy and think of how they are feeling and how desperate they will be and what they will change, we have no control over that. When we start putting energy into that we are wasting it.”
Nienaber continued: “So we can only control what we can control. We must make sure that they are not more desperate than us on the day, that is something we can control.
“I am sure they will be desperate, just like we will be desperate (in the two Test matches). When two great rugby sides play each other I think there is a lot of desperation on both sides and it is always a special clash.”
The Boks will be targeting a balanced performance against the All Blacks, as the visitors to South Africa will bring a completely different challenge to what the Welsh did during the recent incoming series, which the home side will now need to adapt to.
The Boks will look to stick to their strengths, with their set piece-driven kicking game, but they will also have to add a bit extra to keep the visitors on their toes, who despite their recent struggles are still a very dangerous side.
“The main thing is you must have balance. The lineout and maul will always be a big and exciting part of the game,” explained Nienaber.
“There are a lot of technical and tactical decisions you have to make as a defensive side in how you can control that and then that might open up space somewhere else which then you can attack from.
“But New Zealand are a formidable side. You don’t beat them often. One of their big strengths is their transition attack so we will have to be accurate in terms of what we do.”
A big focus point for the Boks will be taking their chances when presented, as that was something that they struggled with in the Welsh series, with them missing out on a number of scoring opportunities.
“When you play a quality side like New Zealand, and especially in the Test matches played between us and them, you are lucky if you get two opportunities and then you must take them. So that’s definitely something that we spoke about,” admitted Nienaber.