‘I’d never seen it before’ – The unique Springboks tactic Jacques Nienaber may bring to Leinster

Jon Wilson
South Africa's head coach Jacques Nienaber plays with a ball before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa's head coach Jacques Nienaber plays with a ball before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde is looking forward to working with new senior coach Jacques Nienaber’s innovation.

Nienaber will formally join Leinster ahead of next week’s United Rugby Championship Interpro clash with Munster.

He arrives at the province off the back of winning back-to-back Rugby World Cups with the Springboks, the second as head coach of the side.

“I’d never seen it before”

McBryde is eager to tap into Nienaber‘s knowledge of the game, particularly after the unconventional tactics South Africa deployed during the World Cup.

The Boks’ bench, comprising seven forwards and one backline player, was one of the tactics deployed by Nienaber and Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus during the World Cup. South Africa benefitted from the inclusion of utility forward Deon Fourie, who played hooker and loose forward.

“I’d never seen it before – the seven-one split. It is unusual, but I think we’re going to see it again,” said McBryde.

“I like the split he has got on the bench, the number of forwards he has got on there. Yeah, like I said there are going to be interesting discussions over the table over styles of play as well.

“In fairness to him Nienaber, when you look at Fourie, the flanker who played hooker for them, when you look at the injuries that Ireland had in that international against Scotland, you ended up with Josh van der Flier throwing the ball in.

“Scott Penny does the same role for us here. Having that ability to play in different positions I think is key. You’ve got to have the ability to be able to fill in those places, especially in the front row.”

Nienaber’s clash with former employers

Leinster currently occupy second position on the URC points table after three wins in four matches. They will face seventh-placed Munster – who are the reigning champions – next week after a clash with Scarlets this weekend.

Nienaber worked with Munster as a defence coach before returning to South Africa in 2018.

“It is just a very exciting period, a very exciting place to be from a coach’s point of view, expecting Jacques to be coming in and adding his bits to what’s already going on here,” added McBryde.

“Obviously, he is familiar with Irish rugby, having had the experience with Munster. You know he is a little bit further down the road than other coaches.”

READ MORE: Ireland hooker relishing ‘leadership role’ after Rugby World Cup disappointment