Jacques Nienaber: Being an international coach always comes with ‘pressure’

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber refused to be drawn into commenting on All Blacks coach Ian Foster’s position in New Zealand’s set up, claiming that all international coaches and players are always under pressure.

Foster has been under tremendous heat after the All Blacks lost their July series to Ireland in New Zealand but has been retained for the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks‘ first assignment is a tricky two-Test tour of South Africa, starting with a clash at Mbombela Stadium this Saturday in Nelspruit.

Test rugby comes with pressure

Nienaber did not comment on the situation in the All Blacks camp and claimed Test rugby coaches are only “two poor games away from being fired.”

“If I comment on what is happening in their camp and how he [Foster] feels, then that will be speculation,” Nienaber said.

“I don’t know what their deal is or how things operate between him and the CEO.

“As coaches and players, we know that when you represent your county there is always going to be pressure.

“Especially countries that have a rich rugby tradition like South Africa and New Zealand. There’s always going to be pressure.

“If you are a coach or a player you are two poor games from being dropped, and you are two poor games away from being fired. That is the reality and one lives with that.”

Nienaber says there is no point “wasting energy” worrying about things that the Springboks cannot control and instead spend time on things they have control over.

“We’ve got no control, and we can’t expand energy on thinking about how they are feeling, how desperate they’d be and what would they change,” he said.

“We’ve got no control over that, so the moment you think about those things, you’re wasting that energy.

“We can only control what we can control. We must make sure that they’re not more desperate than us on the day.

“That we can control, but we can’t control how they tackle the game, what they want to do with our maul, and our style of play.

“We need to stay in that reality. They’ll be desperate, and they’ll always be desperate. When two great rugby sides meet, there’s always desperation.”

Accuracy important against the All Blacks

The Springbok coach touched on Ireland’s performance against the All Blacks and underlined that whatever game plan a team uses against New Zealand, accuracy and execution are vital.

“Ireland are a quality side, and they pitch up with intensity. Their execution was quite good in the plan they had,” he said.

“We are not Ireland, we are not Leinster, and we don’t play like them. But the main thing that we took out of that is whatever plan you decided on for the All Blacks, you will have to bring intensity, and you will have to bring accuracy.”

The 49-year-old underlined the maul as a key attacking platform, but as in the case of Ireland’s triumph, balance in attack is very important.

“You must have balance and Ireland had balance. They scored with maul tries, but they also had other means of attacking,” added Nienaber.

“The lineout maul will always be a big part of the game and it’s an exciting part of the game because there are a lot of technical and tactical decisions you have to make as a defensive side in terms of how you are going to control that.

“That might open up space somewhere else which you can attack if you want to.”

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