Jacques Nienaber. Picture: JUAN JOSE GASPARINI/GALLO IMAGES
Jacques Nienaber. Picture: JUAN JOSE GASPARINI/GALLO IMAGES

It was good to see smiles on the faces of the players, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says, when they arrived for camp to prepare for the Springbok Showdown clash at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Nienaber said there was a buzz of excitement at the hotel of the Springbok Green and Gold teams when players began arriving last Sunday for their first meeting since their Trophy Tour in November.

He was also chuffed to see a number of young players‚ who had been chosen for both the Green and Gold teams‚ soaking up the atmosphere and rubbing shoulders with international stars for the first time in the national set-up.

“It was fantastic to see the excitement on the players’ faces for this occasion when they arrived at the hotel and it certainly bodes well for a great showdown on Saturday‚” said Nienaber, who is also the Gold team commissioner.

“One could sense the excitement and camaraderie among the Rugby World Cup-winning players to be back together for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup last year. The new players and young guns were in great spirits and thrilled to be part of the national set-up.

“This week is going to be different for us due to the strict Covid-19 safety protocols, but fortunately the players have all been exposed to these safety guidelines at their provincial unions in the last few weeks. It is clear that everyone is excited to get into the swing of things when we begin our on-field training on Monday.”

Rassie Erasmus‚ SA Rugby’s director of rugby and Springbok Green team commissioner‚ said it was great for the players to get together again after such a long absence because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“During lockdown‚ Jacques and his assistant coaches kept in touch with the players by means of regular virtual meetings‚” said Erasmus.

“However‚ nothing beats that feeling of being back in an actual team environment. Apart from the few training activities‚ which will not be heavily loaded‚ we will also spend a lot of time on aligning the players in both squads regarding our team objectives for the Springbok Showdown.

“Everyone is excited to be together again and we are looking forward to working with the players in the build-up to Saturday’s match.”

Deon Davids and Mzwandile Stick‚ the respective coaches of the Gold and Green squads‚ will announce their match-day squads on Wednesday.

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