Former Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber already ‘stamping his mark’ on Leinster

Colin Newboult
Jacques Nienaber SA head coach v NZ RWC warm-up 2023 - PA.jpg

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber in 2023.

Leinster flanker Scott Penny is already impressed by what he has seen from coach Jacques Nienaber since he joined the team.

The 51-year-old arrived at the Irish province earlier this week after guiding the Springboks to the Rugby World Cup title in France.

Nienaber will look to transfer those skills over to the Dubliners, who have struggled to get over the line in big competitions.

European struggles

Their last trophy came in 2021 while they have only claimed one Champions Cup success – in 2018 – since 2012.

That winning mentality, as well as his technical expertise in defence, could well be crucial as this immensely talented Leinster side look to finally end their recent European hoodoo.

“He got here and introduced himself and had chats with lots of people,” Penny said.

“Everyone thinks it is really good. He was out on the pitch for the first time and you can already see him stamping his mark.

“He was obviously pretty successful with South Africa and they are obviously a team that puts a lot of pressure on the breakdowns.

“Hopefully we can learn a bit of stuff from him with regards to defensive breakdowns but also learning how they have made their defence so good over the last few years.”

What he brings from South Africa

Leinster have often been the favourites for the Champions Cup over recent times but for whatever reason, whether it be technical or mental, they have failed to lift the trophy.

South Africa, by contrast, have managed to get the job done, and in their 2023 World Cup success they remarkably won their three knockout games by one point each.

The Springboks are renowned for doing the basics well, especially in set-piece, defence and breakdown, and Penny hopes that Nienaber can bring some of those qualities to the province.

“They are obviously big demons of men and you can see that physicality helps them in their defence,” he added.

“Obviously, having size helps with their line speed and how impressive they are in the contact and at the breakdown – it makes them a real force to be reckoned with.

“Our defensive breakdown has been pretty good, we have had a fair few turnovers and been slowing things down. That is probably the main area that we put a lot of focus on so it is great to have Jacques in to help with that.”

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