Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks out to banish demons in Ireland clash

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is hoping for a positive result, after he said that they wanted a clean sweep on tour.

The Springboks will be looking to banish the demons of 2017 when they take on Ireland in their first European end-of-year-tour match at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (kick-off 7:30pm).

The Boks have not played against Ireland much over the years, with the two sides having only clashed 13 times since the turn of the century, while they haven’t played against each other in the last five years.

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Their last meeting was towards the end of Allister Coetzee’s ill-fated reign as head coach, and coming hot on the heels of the Boks record shattering 57-0 loss against the All Blacks earlier that year, they set another unwanted record with their biggest defeat against Ireland, 38-3.  

Bok lock Eben Etzebeth, who was part of the Bok team to last beat Ireland in Dublin in 2012, was also part of the Bok side that was thrashed in 2017, and admitted that despite the gap in time, they could banish those demons with a win on Saturday, like they did against the All Blacks.

“The Test that we lost 38-3 will always be at the back of your mind. It’s not something that one forgets easily,” said Etzebeth.

“It’s almost like the 57-0 defeat against the All Blacks and that loss made the win in Wellington (in 2018) all the sweeter for us because of the margin of defeat.

“We’re getting the same opportunity against Ireland, even though there’s the distance between the games, but we still have the opportunity of putting things right. There are guys who didn’t play in the 2017 Test, but were within our structures for the game.”

Clean sweep

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is also hoping for a positive result, after he claimed earlier in the week that they wanted a clean sweep on the tour.

With Ireland the current top ranked team in the world and France second, the Boks face two extremely tough games in their own backyards, while they also face England at Twickenham without their English and French based players as that game falls out of the international window.

Despite the odds being stacked against them Nienaber believes his team has what it takes to pick up four wins from four, with their other tour match against Italy.

“We want to play as well as possible and win all four Test matches. We’re not being overconfident, but that’s what we’re planning and aiming for,” said Nienaber.