Nienaber addressed the media on a virtual briefing on Wednesday and also gave feedback on the three players in the 46-man squad currently struggling with injuries, namely Duane Vermeulen, who injured his ankle last weekend on duty for the Vodacom Bulls, as well as the Munster duo of Damian de Allende and RG Snyman (burns).
Malcolm Marx, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn, and Willie le Roux reported for duty on Sunday and have been putting in the hard yards on the field and at gym this week.
They will be joined by a big contingent of South African players on Sunday following the conclusion of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA pool games. The full squad will assemble on Sunday, 27 June, once the European-based players conclude their club commitments.
Following a 20-month absence from international rugby following the team’s 2019 Rugby World Cup victory, Nienaber was excited to be back in the national team environment and said: “It is great to be back on the field, to see the players and to coach again. The last time I was on the pitch with the Springboks was the Wednesday before the Rugby World Cup final.”
Nienaber said the coaching staff have been capitalising on the time with this small group of players by zoning in on the detailed aspects of the game.
“As a national coach one doesn’t have much time to focus on the fundamentals, and that is something we are able to do with this small group of players,” he said.
“I was probably more nervous about this week than the others because we have to make sure that what we do at training is meaningful, so we have been doing a lot of skill-based work within the framework of our game plan and a little bit of conditioning as well.
“In the sessions we’ve had so far we have ticked the boxes we wanted to, and I am very satisfied with the first steps to get to our ultimate goal.”
On the injury front, Nienaber wished Vermeulen, De Allende and Snyman well as they embark on their road to recovery. All three were part of the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup-winning squad in Japan in 2019.
“Duane had surgery today, and hopefully the surgery and his rehabilitation goes well,” said Nienaber.
Of De Allende and Snyman he said: “I spoke to Damian and RG and they are fine and so are their families. They have superficial burns and having worked in a burn unit for three years as a physiotherapist, I know what road they will travel now.
“They are seeing the burn specialist on Friday and when they are cleared to travel and the necessary arrangements have been made, they will be able to get onto a plane and join us.”