Former South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has been described as Leinster’s “missing ingredient” as the Dublin-based outfit aim to bring back their glory days.
Ex-Ireland forward duo Donal Lenihan and Bernard Jackman are backing Nienaber to help Leinster as they aim to lift silverware during the 2023/24 season.
Rugby World Cup winner
Nienaber was in charge of the Springboks as they defended their Rugby World Cup title in France recently and will replace Stuart Lancaster as Leinster’s senior coach.
The United Rugby Championship (URC) side have come agonisingly close to gaining success of late but fell short of attaining that goal over the past two seasons.
This, after they lost successive Champions Cup finals to La Rochelle and were knocked out in the URC semi-finals by Munster.
Nienaber is no stranger to the Irish game as he worked as defence coach for Munster in 2016 and 2017 under Rassie Erasmus, who is returning to the Boks’ head coaching position after Nienaber joined Leinster‘s backroom staff.
“He’s the right man, in the right place, at the right time,” Lenihan told viewers of RTÉ’s Against The Head programme.
“He’s also coming in, while he’s been with South Africa and done a brilliant job over the past four or five years, he also knows the DNA of Leinster. He knows it from the outside.
“He can go in there and talk about ‘this is how you are perceived by everybody else, this is how your neighbours down the road saw you’.
“They’ve lacked something. They have the players. Is there 18 or 19 to come back in from the Ireland World Cup squad? But just that last 5%.
“He was also the king of defence when he was in Munster. That was his primary area of activity. Also, if you were to look back at one of the key elements of South Africa winning the World Cup, I think they conceded only seven tries throughout the whole tournament. His defence was outstanding.
“We know their attacking quality, we know the sum of their parts. I think with that extra 5% to get over the line, allied with an even stronger defence, he could well be the missing ingredient.”
Jackman echoed Lenihan’s sentiments and is backing Nienaber to make a positive impact at Leinster.
“They have the talent. There’s no doubt they have the most talent in terms of depth in Ireland,” he said.
Leinster ‘are desperate for him’
“Nienaber is going to come into a team who are desperate for him.
“They had a lot of belief in Stuart Lancaster but obviously that journey is over and they just want to get across the line. They just want to be champions of Europe, certainly at a minimum to be winning URCs.
“They slipped up last year and didn’t have anything to show for it, despite playing great rugby all year, but they know they are going to be judged on Champions Cups and URCs.
“He was well respected in Munster with Rassie, but what he’s done since, you’d have to be envious of watching what he’s done with the Springboks, to go back to back. He’s a winner.”