Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was satisfied with the strides made in the opening week of the team’s preparation camp for the forthcoming Castle Lager Incoming Series as the players concluded their on-field sessions on Friday before a short break for the weekend as the three Tests against Wales draw closer.
Seventeen players were invited to the first week of the camp, while Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf) and Johan Goosen (flyhalf) focused on rehabilitation from their injuries, as the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls got stuck into the groundwork for their Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-finals this weekend.
The week comprised of a few training and gym sessions, as well as team and coaches’ meetings off the field to ensure that everyone was aligned in terms of the team’s goals for the week and the season.
The players will have the weekend off and will reassemble on Sunday for the second week of the preparation camp.
“Our focus was on the fundamental skills this week as we had a limited number of players in Pretoria, but we are satisfied with the foundation laid and we are excited about the next few weeks after seeing the players’ enthusiasm and energy levels on the field,” said Nienaber.
“We obviously had to manage some of the players’ workload, especially the Cell C Sharks players following their exit from the Vodacom URC last weekend, but this was part our planning from the outset, and we believe the strides made this week will be beneficial as we continue our preparations with three weeks to go before our opening Test against Wales.”
Nienaber said the Bok coaches were prepared for all possible scenarios regarding player availability next week depending on the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls’ progress in the Vodacom URC competition.
“We are expecting the size of our training squad to grow in the next few weeks, and we are ready for any eventuality,” said Nienaber.
“We obviously want our South African teams to perform well and advance to the Vodacom URC final, and nothing substitutes game time and pressure like play-off rugby, especially in such a tough competition.
“At the same time, every training session we have with the available players will benefit us with an eye on the Castle Lager Incoming Series, so we will take each scenario as it plays out while ensuring that we maintain the highest possible standards so that we are as prepared as possible for the international season.”
Nienaber will name a squad of close to 42 players for the international season, which kicks off in July with three Tests against Wales in Pretoria (2 July), Bloemfontein (9 July) and Cape Town (16 July).
This will be followed by back-to-back home Tests against the All Blacks in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, a tour to Australia and Argentina, and a Test against the Pumas in Durban in September in their final match of the competition.