Durban — Bok coach Jacques Nienaber says the sweeping changes he has made to the team that beat Wales last week for this week’s second Test hardly makes it a ‘B” side and anybody who refers to them as second-stringers do so at their peril.
With a smile, Nienaber said that the senior backbone that will start against Wales in Bloemfontein would take exception to the suggestion that this is not a typically strong Springbok team.
“I’m not one to take offence easily but if you say this is a “B” team, Eben (Etzebeth) will take offence, so will Handre (Pollard, the captain this week), Jesse (Kriel) and Thomas (du Toit) and so will all the other guys in the team because this is a match-23 picked to beat Wales.”
Nienaber underlined his belief in the team he had just announced by pointing out that he has given the newcomers a chance while the series is still very much alive.
“Our biggest strategic objective as Springboks is to win and we picked a side to do that. You might ask why not wrap up the series with the same team from the first Test and then make all the changes for the dead rubber third Test but we want to see what these guys do under pressure because in a series against the All Blacks and in the Cup you play under constant pressure, but in a dead rubber, it doesn’t matter that much if you win or lose.
“But for our guys that will play on Saturday, it will be like a final for them. Wales will be are playing for survival in the series, and we want to see if how our guys can win under pressure against a desperate Wales team.”
As an example of the quality in his team, Nienaber pointed out the potency of his loose trio, which has 2019 Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit returning from injury, Bulls warhorse Marcell Coetzee returning from ‘exile” and URC Player of the Tournament Evan Roos making his debut.
Many would argue that this loose trio is potentially far superior to last week’s of Jasper Wiese, Siya Kolisi and Franco Mostert.
“It is a very exciting loose trio,” the coach agreed. “Pieter-Steph and Marcell are very experienced and you will have them calming the nerves and the form player from the URC in Evan (Roos) will be feeding off them, and then you have another player in great form in Deon (Fourie) coming on to add something extra. So, yes, this is a very exciting loose trio and I think you will find just as exciting combinations throughout the team.”