Jacques Nienaber on why the Boks will make full use of their squad this year

Jacques Nienaber on why the Boks will make full use of their squad this year

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks will continue to make use of their larger squad throughout the busy World Cup season and at the tournament itself.

Nienaber was responding to questions about the Bok coaches' decision to select a largely new-look side for Saturday's clash against the All Blacks.

The front row of Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe and backline stars Lukhanyo Am and Willie le Roux are the only survivors from last week's epic win over the Wallabies, but Nienaber again reminded everyone that this was always the plan.

Furthermore, the Boks will continue to exploit their impressive depth to its full potential over the course of the season, Nienaber said.

"We have been open with the players from the start as to who would start against Australia and who against New Zealand. We always wanted that blend and that is why we more or less had two squads," he said.

"We tried to strike a balance between players who had enjoyed a good hit-out against the Wallabies and guys who have adjusted to the change in time zones, and we feel we got this right.

"The guys who went early to New Zealand first spent a lot of time in Pretoria helping prepare the team for Australia and now all the guys who have come over later will prepare this team for the All Blacks.

"We know we need a squad system for us to be competitive in the Rugby Championship and to give us a chance of winning it," Nienaber added. "We also need a squad for the two warm-up games against Wales and New Zealand, then a squad for the World Cup.

"There was never an A and B squad for these first two games. We felt the team for Loftus Versfeld was the right mix for Australia and for the All Blacks we picked a team that will give us the best chance of beating a different kind of team."

Perhaps the most surprising selections for Saturday's clash in Auckland were the all-new back row of Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese, but Nienaber had no doubts about the viability of the trio as a unit.

"They might not have played together much in this combination but each has experience in his position," he said. "Franco has played a lot of Test rugby at blindside flank, especially in 2021, and Kwagga is at home at openside while Jasper has played good rugby for us in his customary position of No 8."

Meanwhile, the Bok coach also had good news on the status of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, saying that he and Eben Etzebeth had both made excellent strides thanks to their hard work and commitment.

"He is running today," Nienaber said when asked about Kolisi. "He is doing very well. He is a hard worker and a professional, just like Eben (Etzebeth).

"Eben, at the beginning, this game was touch and go. In terms of the prediction - sometimes you might miss it within a week or two - but they were very diligent and worked incredibly hard.

"Siya is doing the same thing. So, we feel he is on track... definitely on track."

Kolisi traveled to New Zealand with the Boks despite not being able to play and Bok forward Lood de Jager said it was great to have their captain around for moral support.

"It is always good having Siya around," he said.

"He has been our captain for such a long time and he is such an integral part of our group. He is a nice guy overall to have around the squad.

"He is working hard every single day to get back as soon as he can. It has been great having him around."