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Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber responds to latest criticism of his team’s tactics

Springboks Jacques Nienaber

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has responded to former All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen’s criticism of his team’s style of play.

Hansen, who coached New Zealand to the Rugby World Cup title in 2015, was highly critical of South Africa’s test series with the British and Irish Lions, claiming that nobody wants to watch the type of game that was played.

Nienaber was speaking at a press conference ahead of his side’s upcoming Rugby Championship fixture against Australia and New Zealand when he was asked about his opinion of Hansen’s recent comments.

While the South African coach admitted that he hadn’t seen what Hansen had said about both his side and the Lions, he argued that the difference in styles between teams is what makes rugby interesting.

Jacques Nienaber on the Springboks’ style of play.

“For me on playing styles, as I have said in the past, each team has its own squad, has its own skill set and will have its own unique athletic ability and DNA and they will play towards what strengths their DNA,” Nienaber said, via RugbyPass.

“That is the beauty of rugby. It’s the different styles and different ways to win test matches. You play what you see in front of you and then you have to adapt to that. 

“In 2019, I don’t want to go back to that continuously but in the quarter-finals, we played one of the most exciting, most attacking teams in Japan.

“Then in the semi-final, we had to adapt and change our way of playing to play against Wales and it was pretty much this massive arm wrestle. Then we played England which was probably a good blend between the two, between Japan and Wales.”

Clash of styles expected in Rugby Championship.

Nienaber will get his wish in regards to having to adapt to different styles of play, as New Zealand and Australia play a different style of rugby to South Africa’s recent opponents Georgia, the Lions and Argentina.

While saying that the All Blacks and Wallabies focus primarily on attacking rugby and backline play would be an oversimplification, they are certainly two of the most free-flowing teams in international rugby.

New Zealand have proven to be the superior of the two sides in this year’s Bledisloe Cup, but Australia did manage to score seven tries in their two losses to their local rivals nonetheless.

South Africa play Australia twice in their next two Rugby Championship matches, before then playing two more games against New Zealand, in four highly-anticipated encounters.

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