Coach Jacques Nienaber of the Springboks claims that his team has come to terms with becoming a World Cup contender.
SA teams prefer the underdog label, but the Boks have risen after a successful fortnight in the UK.
According to Nienaber, the All Blacks’ performance is only a reminder that one cannot be even “1% or 2%” off against the best sides.
The Springboks of 2023 won’t be alarmed by their recent status as one of the favorites for the World Cup, contrary to the general idea that South African teams perform better when they have been saddled up with an underdog tag.
A combination of a few poor performances and a pronounced mix-and-match selection approach that directly impacted continuity and those showings allowed Jacques Nienaber’s charges to remain unnoticed during the build-up to the tournament in France.
However, a successful two-week stretch in the UK, when Wales was defeated 52-16 in Cardiff and the All Blacks were defeated 35-7, put the Boks back into the top-of-mind territory regarding picking contenders.
“We always knew we would come into the World Cup as the defending champions, and that brings with it attention,” Nienaber said on Friday from Corsica, where the team will go on Saturday to establish their base in Toulon for the competition.
“It is What it is,” Says the Boks!
“It is what it is. We’ll have to put up with it, but we’re okay with it because we can’t change it.Since we have had to cope with the world champion tag for the previous four years, we can say that we are accustomed to it.
Although the Boks have set a strong precedent, this does not mean they will suddenly lose sight that the Webb Ellis trophy race is still up for grabs.
Regarding the World Cup, Nienaber stated, “We’ve talked about how close this tournament will be and how many contenders there are.”
It will be the most closely contested World Cup in history in that regard. A few weeks ago, New Zealand defeated us easily, but [last week] was a complete turnaround. It demonstrates that teams will put you away if you are off by 1% or 2%. That’s going to be crucial in this competition. You’ll need to continuously make sure that you are completely prepared. The best teams will put you to the test if you act out on any game day.
Nienaber expressed his satisfaction with the week-long training camp that was held on the Mediterranean island and notably allowed for the crucial final conditioning of the 33-man squad.
“Last week was fantastic. From a conditioning perspective, it was an addition. Even though there may be brief gaps throughout the World Cup, this was a good time to get things done in that regard. Scotland preparations were made, of course. In Marseille on Sunday of next week, the Boks face off in their World Cup opener against the Scots.