Former Munster and Ireland forward CJ Stander believes that Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber will make a huge difference at Leinster.
After guiding South Africa to their second Rugby World Cup title, Nienaber will link up with Leo Cullen’s coaching staff, where he will take charge of the defence.
“I am actually jealous of the Leinster squad getting Jacques,” Stander said.
“I was coached by him at Munster, and I just loved him as a coach. The thing about him is he is unbelievable technically and defensive-wise. He is the best.
“He will give them another step in the ladder mentally and physically. He will definitely take them to the next level.”
South African teams’ struggles on the road
Meanwhile, Stander says that winning over in Europe still remains a big challenge for the South African United Rugby Championship (URC) sides, but that it’s one they are happy to embrace.
So far this season, no team from the Rainbow Nation has won on European soil, with the Sharks losing away to Munster and Leinster, while the Lions and the Bulls both went down to narrow defeats in Edinburgh and Ulster, respectively, last weekend.
“It’s still a big challenge for them to travel,” said the ex-number eight.
“It’s something they are trying to get their heads around and it’s probably going to take another half a season to get to a place where they are well rested when they arrive.
“It’s about getting that balance correct when they go over to Europe to get those points.
“If you look at the Stormers and the Bulls the last two years, they didn’t get a lot of points when they travelled. They made most of their points when they were back home. If they can get that correct, then the machine will start ticking over.
“But the sense from the teams and the players is that being in this competition is exactly where they want to be. There’s a lot of excitement around it, especially now that the Stormers have tasted glory.
“The BKT URC gives you the opportunity to play against world-class teams every weekend, to test yourself. It is also very important in terms of bringing young talent through.
“With the Springbok players coming back from the World Cup, there will be even more excitement around the competition as they will generally make those teams better. When they do come back, you will probably see a spike in performance.”
Target on Munster’s back
As for Munster, where he spent nine years, Stander says they are now a team everyone wants to beat following their URC title triumph last season.
“When you win a trophy, you always have a target on your back, no matter whether you are the most loved or the most hated team,” he said.
“They are obviously the top team at the moment, and they have started quite well.
“They are playing the type of rugby that Munster is known for, with a lot of hard work and a lot of players standing up to the plate.
“The last two years, they have brought 19 and 20 years old through, and they are playing very well this season.”