The young ones and new players in both camps brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the mix because they were super excited to be involved and to learn and absorb whatever was happening around them.
JOHANNESBURG – The Springbok Showdown has helped identify some of the best young rugby talent in the country according to South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber.
Saturday’s match at Newlands ended in a comprehensive 25-9 win for the Siya Kolisi-led Green team over the Gold side, under the captaincy of Lukhanyo Am, in what was only the second weekend of match action for the local players since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the South African rugby season in mid-March.
Nienaber said the exercise of giving some of the country’s brightest prospects the chance to work with the Springbok coaches and to learn from experienced Rugby World Cup winning Springboks, was a great concept.
“A number of players in this game came into the Springbok set-up as rookies earlier in their careers – guys such as Siya Kolisi, Frans Steyn and Elton Jantjies, to name a few – and they have mentioned the positive effect working with experienced players as youngsters had on their rugby careers,” said Nienaber.
“The young ones and new players in both camps brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the mix because they were super excited to be involved and to learn and absorb whatever was happening around them. So, from that point of view, it was definitely a very worthwhile exercise.
“Now they have a real taste of what the Bok environment looks and feels like. Although the match was not a spectacle, I think especially the young ones will look back with lots of good memories and we hope they return to their franchise teams eager to implement what they’ve learned.”
Apart from participating in the training and technical sessions, players in both squads who were not yet exposed to the international environment were able to mix with experienced Springboks such as Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Steyn and Am.
“One of the other big benefits of the week was to see our current Springboks sharing their experience and knowledge of the successful RWC campaign,” said Nienaber.
“Looking back at the game preparations and the match itself, I think we will definitely reap some rewards in the future.
“It was obviously very good to have the local players back in a Bok environment after such long layoff because of the pandemic. The main objective was to put players under pressure so we can see how they perform in Test-match like conditions.”
The players from the two squads returned back to their franchises on Sunday in preparation for Super Rugby Unlocked, which starts on Friday.
The campaign sees the Bulls, Stormers, Lions and Sharks joined by the Cheetahs, Griquas and the Pumas with all 21 matches to be broadcast on SuperSport.
The local competition will start at 7pm on Friday, when the Sharks take on the Lions in Durban, and the following day the Cheetahs and Bulls will host the Pumas (4.30pm), and Griquas (7pm) respectively.
The Stormers have a bye in the opening round, but they will host the Lions the following week, when the men from Johannesburg will face the Capetonians at Newlands on October 17 at 7pm.
African News Agency (ANA)