How ex-Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber still has an influence on the Stormers’ defensive system

Dylan Coetzee
Leinster head coach Jacques Nienaber.

Leinster senior coach Jacques Nienaber.

Stormers assistant coach Norman Laker has revealed how he combined with former Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber to develop the defensive system they both lead.

Nienaber, who is now a senior coach for Leinster, was part of the Stormers set-up as defence coach during the Rassie Erasmus era in the Cape between 2008 and 2014.

It was during this period when the Rugby World Cup-winning coach would rub shoulders with Laker and develop the system that won the Springboks back-to-back titles.

System settling in at Leinster

This is the same system typified by players shooting up and rushing attackers that Laker employs at the Stormers and Nienaber is beginning to develop with Leinster.

The Stormers defence guru acknowledged that Leinster have had early hiccups with the system but believes their recent drumming of La Rochelle in the Champions Cup quarter-final shows the team is starting to settle into it.

“Leinster’s defence was passive before. They weren’t quick off the line and it was more about connection. Now they’re shooting up,” Laker told Netwerk24.

“In the game they lost against Ulster, they went up and Billy Burns kept putting kicks behind them. They thought they had the system worked out, but that was just the beginning of Jacques at Leinster.

“One could already see in Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle what Jacques’ impact is on the team and defence.”

“Jacques arrived at Western Province at the end of 2007 when I was working at the institute [former Western Province Rugby Academy]. He came there weekly to see the coaching of the U19 team on defence. In 2010, I took over that role from him,” Laker added.

“From 2013, when I started at the WP’s Centre for Excellence with the juniors, we rubbed shoulders a lot and exchanged ideas.

Keeping the system

“When he returned to the Springboks, half of the Stormers team was there. I therefore thought that it would be better to see how we can help each other rather than trying to establish my own system.

“I respect him incredibly much for what he has achieved as a coach and also for his humanity. Jacques could easily have kept his ideas to himself. We exchanged ideas and came up with a good system that we both coach well now.”

Neinaber’s system certainly seems to be adding an extra edge to Leinster, who will need that when their youthful stars face the Stormers this weekend. It is almost must-win territory for the Capetonians in their play-off race which makes for a very interesting match-up this weekend.

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: Round 15 could dramatically shift the race to the playoffs with 11 teams still within striking distance