Nienaber on rookie Grant Williams: 'He's definitely put his hand up'

Nienaber on rookie Grant Williams: 'He's definitely put his hand up'

Grant Williams is set to make his first start for the Springboks against Argentina on Saturday and head coach Jacques Nienaber is backing him to deliver.

The explosive 27-year-old scrumhalf made his debut for the Boks when he came off the bench in their 13-12 defeat to Wales in Bloemfontein last year, but that would be his only appearance in green and gold in 2022 as the likes of Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse and Cobus Reinach were all ahead of him in the pecking order.

Williams continued to excel with the Sharks, however, playing his way back into the Springbok picture and setting the stage for two impressive second-half cameos in the Boks' recent Rugby Championship encounters against the Wallabies and All Blacks.

"We are fortunate that we have five quality scrumhalves. With Grant it's not only the two performances that he has produced off the bench this season that has earned him this start," said Nienaber.

"But it's also last year when he didn't get an opportunity and was fourth or fifth choice, with how he trained and how he performed for his franchise. It's what he's done since he's been in the mix with us and he deserves this opportunity.

"He's always been the guy who has given it his all and he probably deserves the opportunity. He's definitely put up his hand."

Apart from Williams' selection, the Boks have made eight other changes to their run-on side for the clash with Los Pumas.

Nienaber has called for improvement from his team in their contestable kicking game after they were not up to their usual high standards in that department against the All Blacks.

"One of the big things we spoke about in our review was our kicking game against New Zealand and how we were found a little bit short," he said.

"That is out of character for us in terms of the contestable kicking game that New Zealand launched on us.

"Funnily enough that is one of the strengths of Argentina. They have a very good contestable kicking game. So it's almost a double edged sword.

"It's something we want to fix from the previous match. But it's also something that we have to fix playing against Argentina, as it's one of their strengths."