South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has cooled any talk that the absence of the suspended Rassie Erasmus could hurt his side against England.
Nienaber was speaking after the announcement of his team for the final Autumn Nations Series game, which takes place at Twickenham on Saturday.
This will be the second of Erasmus‘ two-game ban by World Rugby after the director of rugby’s series of tweets where he appears to criticise officials.
Serving a two-game ban
Erasmus has already missed the Springboks‘ clash with Italy in Genoa last week, a match they comfortably won 63-21 in an impressive nine-try effort.
It is not the first time his reaction to match officials has landed him in hot water, as Erasmus was banned last year for his video criticism of Nic Berry.
But Nienaber has suggested ahead of the game with England that there’s more to his latest suspension and that “all the facts” have not been made public.
When asked if the ban had affected South Africa’s mood or preparations for the England game, Nienaber insisted his side’s focus is only on the match.
“In terms of Rassie’s ban, no, from our side we focus on rugby,” he said about if there were any distractions.
“We’re a tight-knit unit and team, everyone knows what’s going on, we’re open and transparent to everybody.
“Sometimes it’s, I don’t want to say disappointing, what would the right word be? Maybe disappointing is the right word, when there’s only certain facts that go out and then people from the outside, who only have those facts available, form an opinion and give an opinion on something that happened and obviously they don’t know all the facts.
“It is quite sad if you think about it. I think if all the facts are out there that people will probably form a different opinion.
We know the facts
“I’m not pointing figures at anybody, I don’t want to get involved in this, but for us as a group we know about everything, we’re transparent, we share everything with the players and we know all the facts and unfortunately things went that way, but for us the main thing is to focus on rugby and make sure we prepare our players mentally to be ready for a big test against England on Saturday.”
Pressed on what facts were missing, the head coach added: “I think it probably will come out.
“There’s a lot of confidentiality that we’re not allowed to talk about with media. It’s stuff we can’t discuss but we know the facts, we share with the players and everyone within the group.
“We can’t control narratives of other people’s opinion about us. Whatever people think about us, they think about us but we know what happens inside and how we are.”
The Springboks have made eight changes and one positional tweak to their matchday 23 for Saturday, with six of the alterations coming in the starting XV.