Springbok coaches complete first phase of alignment camps in preparation for Test season
The Springbok coaches have completed their first round of strategic alignment camps with selected players around the country in preparations for the 2021 Test season.
Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber‚ his assistants and the management staff met with some Bulls and Lions players in Johannesburg‚ Sharks players in Durban Stormers players in Cape Town and Cheetahs players in Bloemfontein.
Nienaber and his technical team were joined by Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus‚ assistant coach Felix Jones and head of athletic performance Andy Edwards online.
Speaking at the conclusion of their final session‚ Nienaber said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“The players haven’t been together (in a Springbok setup) for more than 500 days‚ so there was a lot of excitement‚ as you can imagine‚” said Nienaber.
“Just meeting face-to-face was absolutely great‚ because I haven’t seen some of the players since the Rugby World Cup victory tour parade in November 2019.
"It was reality check for us in terms of where we were in 2019 and where we are currently in 2021‚ and where we have to turn our focus towards and improve during our preparations‚” said Nienaber.
Nienaber described the sessions as productive and what they needed to start the next phase of preparations as the Springboks gear up for a return to Test rugby with a busy international calendar looming.
The demanding 2021 schedule includes the much-anticipated Lions Series‚ the Rugby Championship and the traditional end of the year tour to Europe.
SA Rugby was forced to withdraw the Springboks from all international participation in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the last time the Boks played was the Rugby World Cup final against England on 2 November 2019 in Japan.
“Firstly‚ we shared general information around commercial and marketing engagements‚ because this is a British & Irish Lions tour and a bit different from your normal tour‚” said Nienaber.
“It was also good opportunity to work through our various team protocols again‚ with the Test calendar and the effects of the pandemic in mind‚ but we gave them a schedule with as much detail as possible.
“With the squad being apart since the end of 2019 and expected to hit the road running against the British & Irish Lions in a few months’ time‚ it was vital to get everyone in sync as soon as possible‚ said Nienaber.
“I would say the big part of these assemblies was the reality check exercise‚ to see where we are as a team‚ not just the players‚ but also the whole management – with that steering our focus to the areas we have to improve.
"And another major objective was for the players to have a clear understanding of exactly what is required of them to be considered for Springbok section‚” Nienaber added.
With the local camps and sessions with players based in Ireland completed‚ attention now turns to the rest of the overseas-based Springboks.
Nienaber and his coaches will meet those based in Japan on Thursday and next week will be the turn of the players based in England and France.