Jacques Nienaber: Boks have worked hard to evolve their game since 2019

Jacques Nienaber: Boks have worked hard to evolve their game since 2019

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made it clear the Boks won't be content with climbing back into their shells at the Rugby World Cup, as the game has changed too much since 2019.

At times during the 2019 tournament and in the years since, the Boks have come under criticism for their somewhat conservative gameplan, which put a strong focus on forward and set-piece dominance along with a strong tactical kicking game.

But as recent results against the Wallabies, All Blacks and Wales show, Nienaber and his fellow coaches have clearly put a lot of work into making this current Bok team a more dangerous and potent one with ball in hand, and the coach admitted this has been a purposeful strategy for quite some time.

"I think all the teams have improved since 2019, but World Cups are a bit different," he said.

"You must have the ability to score points, whereas in 2019, you could grind it out with a good defence, a good kicking game, a solid set-piece. We have had to adapt."

Nienaber warned the Boks' rivals, however, that this is very much still a work in progress.

"I don't think we're the finished product yet but we are working towards that," he said.

Last month, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi also weighed in on the Boks' subtle shift in tactics and how hard they've worked on expanding their attack-minded toolset.

We have had to change a lot. We stuck to our core things - setpiece, scrums, physicality and kicking game - but there is no way we can win playing the same way we did in 2019," Kolisi said.

"You would have seen this year how the boys played, some of the plays we used - we had to change some of them instead of playing the same way as the last time, which people have studied. We have had to change quite a lot in the way we played. It is quite exciting for us as players and for a lot of players in the team, it gives us more freedom."

At the same time, the Boks still know that their set-piece strength needs to lay the foundation for the rest of their attacking play.

"For us, rugby is always going to stay the same. You have to get possession to score points, and for that, you will need proper set-pieces, then you will need momentum when you attack," Nienaber added.

"And when you defend, you must contain them, you must stop them. There's the kicking game in between.

"Then, if you're not getting momentum, you're not getting quick ball, you exchange it for territory, kick the ball away and put pressure on them."

Looking ahead to Sunday's game against Scotland, Nienaber said the Boks will be showing the Scots nothing but respect.

"They are a quality rugby side. They deserve to be ranked fifth in the world. Their performances over the last 18 months have been consistent against the big teams. It will be a proper Test match. We're playing quarter-final knockout rugby from day one."

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