Jacques Nienaber: One eye was always on the Springboks' Rugby World Cup

Jacques Nienaber: One eye was always on the Springboks' Rugby World Cup

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber immediately shrugged off their Rugby Championship defeat to New Zealand as he defended their strategy with their chances of claiming the title having all but slipped away.

The reigning world champions were brought back to reality on Saturday morning as they went down 35-20 to the All Blacks at Go Media Stadium in Auckland, following their emphatic 43-12 annihilation of Australia at Loftus a week ago.

The Boks now have just one more test against Argentina on 29 July in the condensed Rugby Championship, and Saturday's defeat reduced their chances of winning the competition.

However, the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning assistant coach stressed the bigger picture, which is their preparations for the 2023 global showpiece in France.

"We decided to go with the strategy that we did and majority of the guys got an opportunity to play, and we've got one more game that will count for the Rugby Championship and then obviously three [World Cup] warm-up games," defended Nienaber.

"So, our plan was always to win the Rugby Championship but also to assess [the squad]. So, we've got four more games to make sure we get our house in order before we go to the World Cup."

Asked whether sending a group of 13 players Down Under to acclimatise before the Australia test was perhaps flawed, Nienaber insisted the intention was purely to have greater balance on the park.

"Obviously we wanted to win this game, and we felt for us travelling, the guys who came from South Africa [after the Australia test] only arrived on Tuesday morning, I think probably, 1 or 2 o' clock," he pointed out.

"So, we felt having a couple of guys here that would be better adapted to the time zones would give us a better chance [of winning], and we knew, like I said, there's pros and cons to both.

"The pro is they get over the jet lag and they're fresh; the con is they haven't had exposure to international rugby, which the other guys had.

"So, agh, that's the strategy we went with – we did the same in 2019. The performance wasn't because of that, it was because in the first 20 minutes, we just made too many errors."