Watch out world was the reading between the takeaway lines after Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber described the last four weeks in charge of the team as one of the most enjoyable times ever . That was quite the claim.
South Africa have won just two of their four matches, coming under fire from their home fans at the start of the tour. There was also an extremely entertaining controversy over the Erasmus Rassiewhich resulted in a two-game matchday suspension for the Director of Rugby.
And then there were the frequent card problemsred for the independents of Le Toits, Pieter-Steph and Thomas, for their murderous contact respectively with an opposing header and also a yellow which another day could have been red for Cheslin Kolbe.
It was the kind of headache that should have pained the Springboks head coach deeply and yet there was Nienaber, a picture of serenity at his post-match press conference and the signing of the European tour as if it were a thing of beauty.
If these are the kind of punches the Springboks can deftly roll with on a November jaunt that took them to Dublin, Marseille, Genoa and London, then the warning to the world in ten months for the defense of their World Cup title is that they are ready for anything and everything that might come their way in France.
Asked to sum up the tour, Nienaber enthused after the Springboks’ 27-13 victory over England: “I told the team afterwards, it was probably one of the most enjoyable four weeks that I had. Although we only won 50% of our games, I thought that in terms of the working relationship between the coaching staff, between the staff, between the performance staff, between the players, our game pilots, I thought there was clarity.
“I think we gelled really well, so even though we didn’t get the result in the first two games on the circuit, I thought we had a chance and so yeah, it was nice. We were creative in terms of the plans we came up with and we stuck to it and yes, we tried hard.
“There were a lot of other nice moments but I thought that group, those four games, they really created a great property from a player perspective, from a management perspective and that was enough. pleasant.”
Incredibly, Nienaber even admitted not knowing Twickenham’s full-time scoreline. “It was a big challenge. I mean, we had to release stuff the same day. It was definitely if you look I don’t even know what the score was I mean it was a humdinger for me until the end. We all saw what England are capable of last weekend, they came back (against All Blacks).
“On our side, from the coaching box, we knew they had the ability in them like they did last week. You are never comfortable. We pushed hard to try to get territory, to try to get another score because we felt it was a little too close, but yeah, happy for the guys who stuck and made it in the end.
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