Springbok selections for Lions series will not be based on reputations‚ says coach Nienaber

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made the announcement on June 5 2021.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made the announcement on June 5 2021.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber says reputations will not count for much when the teams to play against Georgia‚ and the British and Irish Lions are selected.

SA Rugby announced the 46-man squad on Saturday and it included 29 Rugby World Cup winners‚ and eight uncapped players.

The team will play two Tests against Georgia next month‚ and three Tests against the British and Irish Lions on June 24 and 31‚ and August 7.

Nienaber said the players who will get the nod are those who are going to give the hard yards at training‚ and final selection will not be based on whether they are based overseas or played at the World Cup.

“If a guy knocks the door down because he is training well and the other guy is getting a little bit of entitlement‚ it is no reason for the one who is working hard and producing at training‚ but maybe doesn’t have a cap under his name‚ to be [overlooked]‚” he said.

“We will have to go into training and see how the guys go‚ how the overseas guys fit into the structure again and how they pick on what we want to do.

"Obviously‚ I worked with them for 22 weeks in 2019 and hopefully they will get into the mix as quickly as possible because they have been selected on form.

"They will have to train well and they will have to be conditioned according to our style and what we do.”

Nienaber said the good thing for the Boks think tank is that most of the players who won the World Cup in Japan in 2019 have been active and are doing well at their respective clubs.

“I think it will be stupid to say the guys who played at the World Cup are now second best or third best‚ they have been there in the past and they are playing well.

"I must say the guys who have been selected and have been to the World Cup have been playing well‚ and they are working hard.

“We put them in the alignment camps where we engaged and gave them feedback with things that they must work on and intervention plans in their games‚ and we can see immediate improvements.

"I won’t say this is the A or the B side.

"It is a squad and the guys who are going to play‚ we will filter them as we go into the six weeks leading up to the British and Irish Lions series.”

Nienaber said the door is not completely closed on players like JD Schickerling‚ Lizo Gqoboka‚ Marcell Coetzee and Curwin Bosch‚ who have opportunities of playing against the British and Irish Lions for the franchises.

“A player like Marcel‚ I think he last played against Leinster on the 6th of March.

"His appearance for the Bulls against the Stormers on Friday was literally his first game back on week 13 after his injury.

“That is the home ground advantage that we have with regards to a guy like Marcel who is playing in SA.

"He can play next weekend‚ he can play in the Rainbow Cup SA final if the Bulls make it and he can play a game against the British and Irish Lions for the Bulls‚ and we might get injuries.

"Hopefully that doesn’t happen‚ but guys like that can still make the squad.”