Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

‘I don’t think I’m walking away, hopefully I’ll be back’ – Jacques Nienaber

Nienaber is ending his current association with the Boks on the best possible note, as back to back world champions.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber doesn’t believe he is walking away from the national side and is hopeful that his rugby journey will one day bring him back to the Boks in the future.

Nienaber is ending his current association with the Boks on the best possible note, as back to back world champions, with this his first World Cup title as head coach, after he was defence coach under SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during the 2019 event.

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Having been part of an incredible coaching duo with Erasmus for close to two decades, Nienaber now branches off on his own to his next role, as senior coach of Irish giants Leinster, where he will hope to continue growing as a coach over the coming years.

“I don’t think I’m walking away. I’ll never walk away from the Springboks. The Springboks have given me everything,” said Nienaber at the team’s arrival press conference at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.

“I would have been a physio in Bloemfontein if senior leaders like our president Mr (Mark) Alexander and Rassie hadn’t backed me. You need people to back and believe in you.

“I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Rassie said, ‘Listen guys I believe this physio/defence coach is good enough to be a head coach, even though he hasn’t been one before’. So first of all you need people that believe in you.”

Important aspects

Nienaber admitted that the most important aspects for his success, on top of the people in charge believing in him, was having the right support staff around you and the players themselves, who are the reason that coaches even have a job.

“You need the right people around you. There are a lot of things that I am not good at. So in terms of our management we needed people who could fill those gaps, where I wasn’t able to, and they (the assistant coaches) stepped up and fulfilled their role,” said Nienaber.

“Then the players … coaches are nothing without players. Players are the people that sacrifice (the most). They do (injure) their shoulders, Siya (Kolisi, in April) did his knee and we ask them to do (put their bodies on the line) that.

“It’s nice that I’m moving onto the next chapter for a couple of years, and nobody knows how it’s going to go. You never know, hopefully I will be back.”

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