Springboks legend insists Leinster yet to get ‘full value’ from Jacques Nienaber

Colin Newboult
Leinster head coach Jacques Nienaber.

Leinster senior coach Jacques Nienaber.

Former Springboks lock Victor Matfield believes that Leinster can get even better with Jacques Nienaber at the helm.

That is despite their outstanding Champions Cup triumph over La Rochelle which married the Irish province’s attacking skills to Nienaber’s philosophies.

They were relentless in defence and hinted at a team that have added to their already loaded armoury as they seek to win their first trophy in three years.

However, Matfield believes that the best is yet to come from the Irishmen and that, should they win the competition, it will show the ex-Boks head coach’s true influence.

Dominant Leinster

“We’ve already seen last week, Leinster were just dominating (La Rochelle),” he said. “We’ll see his full value in the semi-finals and finals – if Leinster wins both competitions, everyone will know why they brought Jacques over.”

The 51-year-old joined Leinster after the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup triumph in France, where they defeated the All Blacks 12-11 in the final.

It was South Africa’s second successive global tournament win, following their victory in 2019, and Matfield put Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus’ brilliance down to preparation.

“The two of them, they live, eat, sleep rugby,” he said.

“He’s very confident in how he sees the game and what he believes in. When you get someone like that, even if it’s a team that has been playing differently to what he’s used to, he’ll bring something that will definitely help them.

“The biggest thing about Jacques’s defence is work-rate, it’s getting off the ground and getting off the line.

“If you look at Leinster on attack, if they apply that to their defence: that same work-rate, getting into the shape, being an option, getting off the line and being accurate in what you do, they’ll just get better.”

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Jordie Barrett signing

Leinster will only get stronger next season after bringing in All Blacks star Jordie Barrett on a short-term contract.

It was a move which sent shockwaves around Europe and South Africa, and Matfield thinks that it is a signing that will move them “further ahead” of their rivals.

“It’s always great to bring a top player like that to your union,” he said.

“It’s just a different view on how things work, taking some things from that, bringing IP from the All Blacks to that squad.

“They’ve got this fantastic Ireland team that’s won everything, the Leinster team that’s almost unbeatable, and you’ve added Jacques Nienaber so you’ve brought something from the successful Springboks.

“And now you’re bringing in Jordie Barrett, one of the stars of the All Blacks. It’s just adding more IP into that whole system, so that should make it more difficult for other teams – and it will probably just take Leinster further ahead of everyone else.”

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