Jacques Nienaber chats about the 23 selected to face Tonga

Jacques Nienaber chats about the 23 selected to face Tonga

Jacques Nienaber, head coach

On the improvements he wants to see after the loss to Ireland:

"Let’s take the result out of the way - we all know that we need to get a win and a bonus point. So let’s park the result.

"We’ve got certain things that we have to rectify that we couldn’t get right against Ireland.

"In terms of our game plan, there are definitely some things that we will try a little bit differently in this game to see if it works.

"The result is very important but we need to fix that if we do get the opportunity to go into a quarter-final or knockout rugby. If we don’t fix those things we probably won’t last long in this competition."

On what he is looking for from Deon Fourie [starting hooker] and Marco van Staden [on the bench], with Bongi Mbonambi - the only specialist hooker in the squad - not selected in the match-day 23:

"For them to drive our set-piece - scrums, lineouts - within our system.

"There will be challenges within those systems and then they, as the set-piece leaders, will drive certain set-pieces for us, so in scrum time if things aren’t going our way, [they need] to find solutions.

"The coaches, Deon [Davids] and Daan [Human] have put something in place that they think will be good enough to get the better of Tonga in those departments. If those plans or structures don’t work, they’ll have to find solutions.

"The other thing is they must just bring their normal game. There’s going to be 200 breakdowns in this game, and there they have to apply themselves."

On having their families with them at Rugby World Cup 2023:

"If you walk out of this hotel you will see that there’s a lot of families and kids here. We try and create as big a family environment as we can, without it affecting the preparation. We did the same in 2019, we did the same with the British and Irish Lions series, our families went into the bubbles with us."

On Duane Vermeulen being in the coaches' box against Ireland and whether he is preparing for a role as a coach in the future:

"I can’t say if he’s preparing for the future. It’s not the first time that we have had a player in the box. It’s good for us as coaches to sometimes have a player [there], because they give us a different perspective of how our communication is within the team. They get a sense of the sometimes frustration that coaches are under in a coaches' box. That grows them as a player.

"Our coaches' meeting starts at seven in the morning - any player can join that. Let’s say it gets to something sensitive like team selection, we will excuse them from the meeting and have the internal discussion, but they are more than willing - from 2018 - to sit in coaches' meeting as much as they want.

"Duane’s role; if you look back to 2019, the best way to describe it is a Francois Louw role. He’s a guy that can start, that can play a test match for you, but he’s also a guy that’s got a lot of experience and he adds his wealth of knowledge into the group.

"Not saying that he can’t start. Look at Francois Louw, the contribution he made in that semi-final for us, to get a penalty in the 76th minute. 

"Big moments, big roles, been there before - he’s [Vermeulen's] probably in that mould, but if there’s an injury and he has to start and play the whole game, he’s more than fit and good enough to do that."

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