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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber brushes off criticism from former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

02 September 2021 - 10:13
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
Image: David Rogers/Getty Images

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has been focused on preparations for the remainder of the Rugby Championship and preferred not to take note of criticism from former New Zealand coach Sir Steve Hansen.

The highly respected Hansen, who guided the All Blacks to World Cup victory in 2015, recently joined the bandwagon of high-profile rugby figures who have criticised the  Springboks’ style of play.

The Springboks recently beat the British and Irish Lions to win the series 2-1 and they are leading the Rugby Championship after two victories over Argentina in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, but the critics have not been complimentary.

“To be honest, I didn't see the comment,” said Nienaber when asked if he saw the comments attributed to Hansen claiming that the Boks play it safe and are not adventurous by throwing the ball around.

“With everything that’s happened regarding quarantine and stuff, doing our reviews and setting our goals for this week, and what we have to produce as a team, I haven’t seen Steve’s comments.”

Nienaber, who over the past few weeks has had to repeatedly defend the playing style of the Springboks, said each team has its own DNA and it is dictated to by the skills set of its players.

“For me, it’s like I have said in the past that each team has its own playing style and each squad has its own skills set. Each team will have its own unique DNA and they will play according to what strengthens their DNA.

“I think that is the beauty of rugby, there are different styles and ways to win matches and obviously you play with what is in front of you and sometimes you have to adapt. I don’t want to go back there continuously, but I said in 2019 we played probably the most exciting and attack-minded team in the form of Japan in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

“And then in the semifinals we had to adapt and change again to play against Wales, which was a massive arm-wrestle. And then we played against England in the final, which was probably a blend of Japan and Wales, with their good kicking game and good defence system and they put pressure on you.”