Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks answering questions ahead of 2023 World Cup, says coach Nienaber

The Springboks are back in the mix in the Rugby Championship and have two games remaining — both against Argentina.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was pleased with the performance of young wing Canan Moodie and a number of other players who took their chance with aplomb when they comfortably beat the Wallabies 24-8 in their Rugby Championship match in Sydney on Saturday.

Looking ahead to next year’s World Cup in France, Nienaber admitted it had been a tough season trying to get the mix of the team right, while staying competitive and answering some questions ahead of the showpiece event.

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“I am very happy and proud of him (Moodie). He has been good for his franchise the Bulls in the URC, so we’ve been following him for quite some time. Unfortunately we have had a couple of injuries and he is our fifth or sixth right wing that we have played this year,” said Nienaber.

“In the last four games in the Rugby Championship we have used 32 players which is quite tough on the team. There are certain answers that we wanted to get this year and Canan was one of them, Kurt-Lee Arendse was another.

“So while trying to be competitive and win the Rugby Championship we also need to get some answers in certain positions going into the World Cup.”

Nienaber added: “That’s probably the challenge for us as a team, to be creative in squad selection and get some answers in the squad. The thing you sacrifice is continuity in team selection.

“The nice thing is that the team has never lost belief, despite not having continuity in selection. So I am very proud of Canan and some of the other guys who got opportunities and took them (against the Wallabies in Sydney).”

Improved performance

Nienaber was also pleased with the team’s improved performance, after they bounced back from a disappointing showing in Adelaide a week earlier, to keep their Rugby Championship hopes alive.

“Last week we created a couple of opportunities that we didn’t take, so I thought that was better tonight. We also weren’t happy with the intensity we started the game with last week, especially that first 20-25 minutes. So I thought that was a big step up today,” said Nienaber.

“I think the players were just up for it this week. Not that they weren’t up for it last week, but we had a really good week of preparation and I think that helped a lot.”

The bonus point win has brought the Boks right back into the mix for the Rugby Championship title, with the All Blacks top of the log on 10 points, while the Boks, Wallabies and Argentina sit second, third and fourth all on nine points, with the Boks ahead on points difference.

Future of the bomb squad

Looking ahead to the rest of the Rugby Championship, Nienaber was asked whether they would dispense with the bomb squad, after the five-three split of forwards to backs worked so well against the hosts.

“We always go into a game with specific tactics. It’s sometimes to get answers, so sometimes we have got certain boxes that we want to tick from a technical and tactical point of view,” explained Nienaber.

“Then we will start certain players and see how they go and maybe bring the bomb squad on a little earlier. I just think with the amount of injuries that we had and where we are currently, losing two flyhalves in one game, you almost lose that bomb squad.

“So we had another plan for these games. We will assess the injuries and then we will make a plan for Argentina, and we have seen what they can produce over the past couple of games.”

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