Once the World Cup is over, Jacques Nienaber plans to leave his position as Springbok head coach to further his career at Leinster, where he will replace Stuart Lancaster as a senior coach.
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Nienaber has indicated that he would be open to returning as the Springbok coach in the future, and this could be a real possibility.
Reports say that Nienaber’s contract with Leinster is until June 2026, and there is a real chance that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus could then bring him back into the top job with the Springboks.
Even before the World Cup final, Nienaber suggested that he was not emotional because he hopes to return to coaching the side one day.
“You don’t know the future. That’s how I see it. I’m not emotional. I don’t know if this is my last Test match with the Boks or not. You can plan life as much as you want but life has its own ways. Destiny has its own way.
“I just focus on how you should approach the game, that any day can be your last day with the team. I just enjoy every single minute of it. I stay in the now and enjoy the players. I’ve twice been in positions where I’ve thought this is the end – I’ll never be here again and look where we are now.”
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What’s the interim plan for the Springbok coaching role?
SA Rugby is comfortable with Rassie Erasmus returning to a frontline role as Springboks coach while they evaluate the next best steps.
It’s not yet clear if this will be an interim appointment, or potentially long-term, but Erasmus is set to absorb the responsibilities as head coach for the foreseeable future – as he did when he returned to South Africa in 2018, coaching the Boks to their 2019 World Cup triumph.
“We will do the wash-up of the tour and talk about where we will go next, but there is no rush (to replace Nienaber),” SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has stated. “We have the director of rugby [Erasmus] to fill in that role in the meantime and we are taking our time to see the other coaches within the system and then we will make a decision.”
Following the semi-final win over England, Siya Kolisi paid the most special tribute to Nienaber, explaining just how much the coach means to him and the Springboks.
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You can watch the tribute to Nienaber below:
Sad to see the Bok coach go
Kolisi was asked about his relationship with Nienaber ahead of his farewell.
“I was 18 years old. I was contracted with the Cheetahs and then I was able to go to Western Province. That is when I met Jacques,” Kolisi explained. “He and coach Rassie used to come to the institute, the Western Province Academy. That is where our foundation as a group [began].
“When Jacques came it was the full contact there and you had to show who you are. Every time they came it was intense. I got to know him then and as I went on he became my senior coach and one thing I love about him is he goes far deeper than what is happening on the field. He got to know me, my family and why I do what I do. He speaks to us with human courtesy.
“They don’t encourage us to tackle hard – we all know what that is. He knows my kids by name, asks me how I am doing as a person and that is why I can go and give him everything on the field because he cares about the person, he cares about Siya from the township. For the teams, especially in big moments, he talks about each and every player’s journey.
“It is so special to be known as a person not just as an object or a rugby player. That’s what he brings to this team. And the fact that he allows families to be around, how much he loves to see our kids running around. I know some teams are not allowed to have families, but that is what he creates, that family environment.
“I have enjoyed every single year that I’ve worked with him. The tough times too, when he comes and calls me out. He is always honest. I can’t explain how much I have enjoyed it.
“He and coach Rassie [Erasmus] love the country. Wherever he goes, they are going to be lucky. The detail he puts in, it makes life so much easier. All I have to do is watch a screen to see what opportunities are there. He’s a special coach and a special human being, an amazing father and a great husband. I will always be thankful. When I first met him I couldn’t tackle.”
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