Jacques Nienaber prepares for Springbok goodbye in SA: ‘A dream that came true’

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Bok coach Jacques Nienaber at his final team announcement presser in SA on Tuesday. PHOTO: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber is preparing for his final game in charge of the team in South Africa, when they take on Argentina in the Rugby Championship at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Nienaber has been part of the Bok management team for the past six years, with him taking over as head coach from SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus after the previous World Cup in Japan (in 2019), and this year’s World Cup will be his final outing with the national team before moving on.

Nienaber has decided to continue his coaching career with Irish powerhouse Leinster, who he will link up with following the showpiece event in France.

It is expected to be an emotional day for the servant of South African rugby, who has been involved in the national setup since 2004.

“I’m not a very emotional person. The first time I was involved in coaching a national team was in 2004 when the A side went to Argentina. Then in 2011 was my first time with the senior team,” said Nienaber at the team’s squad announcement on Tuesday.

“A guy works hard and always hopes and believes that one day you’ll get a chance to be involved in just one Test with the Boks and maybe go to one World Cup.

“Now to be part of three World Cups is just unbelievable, it’s a dream … it’s more than a dream that came true in my life. I was a physio in Bloemfontein (in my younger days).”

Massive occasion

Despite it being a massive occasion as Nienaber presides over his final game with the Boks in South Africa, he left the door firmly open for a possible return in the future.

“It’s nice, the players make me happy on Saturdays , so it will be a little emotional, but it’s not to say it’s the last time. No one knows what will happen in the future. Lots of things happen in rugby, you never know,” said Nienaber.

Following the match on Saturday the Boks head to Argentina for the first of three warm-up games next weekend, ahead of the World Cup starting in early September.

They will then return to South Africa, with the final squad of 33-players for the World Cup being named on Tuesday 8 August.

The squad will head on to Wales and England for their final two warm-ups against Wales and the All Blacks respectively, before continuing on to France where they will attempt to defend their title.

The Citizen/Ross Roche