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Bok coach Nienaber hoping there are no more bio-bubbles this season

27 May 2022 - 11:07
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is hoping for some sort of normality during the forthcoming international season.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is hoping for some sort of normality during the forthcoming international season.
Image: David Rogers/Getty Images

After the difficult conditions of navigating through Covid-19 bio-secure bubbles, Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber is hoping for some sort of normality during the forthcoming international season.

Most international sport last year, including the Springboks’ series against the British and Irish Lions and the Rugby Championship, was played under strict bio-bubbles which took its toll on players and team management.

The Boks start their season with a three-match Test series against Wales in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town in July, where they will be looking to make a good start.

After hosting the Welsh, the Springboks will turn their attention to two marquee Tests against the All Blacks in Mbombela and at Ellis Park before taking on Australia and Argentina.

Speaking at an event where SA Rugby and Betway announced a partnership to boost women’s rugby development, Nienaber said he hoped bio-bubbles were a thing of the past.

“Hopefully, it is not bubbles again, but you never know how things are going to pan out.

“But currently it is looking like there will be some sort of normality and we can actually plan accordingly. Last year, planning was very diverse because we were playing in Australia, in the UK and back in SA again.

“Then there was the Rugby Championship that started in SA and went to Australia and that was the tough part. You almost had 10 different scenarios you had to roll out and see which one was going to play out and went with that one. I think there is going to be some sort of normality.”

During the domestic season, Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have been holding alignment camps where they explained the team’s programme in detail to the players.

“Alignment camps are just an invitation. When we go into preparations camps we are going to go into when we get the players together, it is not going to be a Springbok camp, because of the staggered introduction of players.

“Sometimes we might just get a local U20 player to come and be a hooker, because there might not be a hooker as they are all still playing. I don’t think when we are at training sessions you must say it is the Springboks camp.

“It is a preparation camp to prepare the players as best as we can. But the reality is that in week one there may be only nine players or there might be 13, there might be 17 or there might be 27 if all three in the URC teams lose.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac named two uncapped players in the form of James Ratti and Tommy Reffell for the S SA tour and Nienaber says they have announced the best possible squad.

“The team Wyne has selected from Wales is the best available team he has. The only guys that haven’t been selected are the guys that have injuries, so he selected the best available team that is he’s got.”

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