Nienaber defends Le Roux’s shocking showing, praises Steyn’s performance


Springbok utility back Frans Steyn

Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber defended Willie le Roux’s shocking performance in South Africa’s 31-29 win against New Zealand, saying that he showed nice touches.
  • Le Roux had such a dispiriting outing, he was yanked off at half-time and replaced by veteran Frans Steyn.
  • While noticeably lacking in pace, Steyn’s tactical kicking and position contributed to the Boks’ win.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber defended Willie le Roux’s horrible showing in South Africa’s 31-29 win against New Zealand in Gold Coast on Saturday.

To say Le Roux, an integral attacking point person for the Springboks, had a horror show, was an understatement.

He had a hand in two of the three tries the Springboks conceded against the All Blacks.

In Sevu Reece’s try, he missed a straight-forward kick-off and he then missed a straight-forward tackle in the build-up to Ardie Savea’s try and to top it off, misjudged a high kick to a point where the ball hit him on the head.

He was replaced by Frans Steyn, who played his 10th Test against New Zealand since his first outing against them in Durban 14 years ago.

READ | Jacques Nienaber on bench impact in All Black win: ‘I should have bitten the bullet last week’

While the Bok defensive system ensured that Steyn’s lack of pace wasn’t exposed, his tactical kicking and positioning played a huge role in bringing the Boks back into the game.

Nienaber said Steyn was brilliant and his behind-the-scenes work with the teams came to fruition in the Test.

“I thought Frans was brilliant, but players make errors sometimes,” Nienaber said.

“With the one cross-kick to Makazole Mapimpi, if the bounce was a bit to the right and Mapimpi scores, it’s different.

“I feel there were a few good touches, but again, the bench really influenced the game, but Frans has this ability of kicking these 50-22 kicks.

“It is something that we utilised very well in this game, but Frans was very good. He’s been training very well.

“He’s been excellent and very positive in the past four weeks. He’s been awesome for us.”

The Springboks haven’t had the best return of results in Australia, having lost three of their four matches.

Nienaber said their close losses against Australia in the first Test of the trip and last week’s 19-17 defeat against the All Blacks was indicative of the narrow margins that separate the best teams in world rugby.

“It’s been a tough four weeks in that we surrendered momentum by not getting victories in the first three games,” Nienaber said.

“When you look at, those are the margins when numbers one, two and three deal with when they play against each other.

“In this game, we were fortunate in that we got our opportunity at the end of the game to win because last week, New Zealand had that opportunity.

“Australia also had that opportunity in the first Test, so that tells you how fine the margins have been.”

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Publish date : 2021-10-02 18:41:59

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