Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Cape Town - The Stormers may not have won through to the Super Rugby final but there has been more confirmation in the wake of their semi-final defeat last weekend that the Springboks will base their game heavily around the Cape team's strategy at the forthcoming World Cup.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers lauded the Stormers as the team with the playing style that could win the World Cup when he spoke at a press conference in Wellington in April. The following week it was confirmed that Stormers tactical guru Rassie Erasmus had joined the Boks as a technical adviser. And now Jacques Nienaber is set to join his Stormers boss as part of the World Cup challenge.
It has not been officially announced yet, but the Nienaber recruitment is considered a done deal, and it will be made official at a press conference within the next couple of days. It is understood that the Nienaber appointment will be along the same lines of that of Erasmus - the defence expert will be part of the Bok group up to and including the World Cup and then revert to his current role at Western Province/Stormers for the 2012 Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns.
The Nienaber appointment should be welcomed for while the Stormers didn't advance to the Super Rugby final, they did end the competition as comfortably the best defensive side. And the World Cup is likely to be more about defence than Super Rugby is.
De Villiers wanted Nienaber to help the Boks out during last year's disastrous Tri-Nations campaign, but WP refused to release him. In any event, introducing a defensive system is not something that can be done in a couple of days, which was what De Villiers envisaged back then.
Now it is different, as it is anticipated the top Springboks will remain behind when the squad goes on the away leg of the Tri-Nations - as was the case when Jake White prepared the Boks for their World Cup challenge in 2007. It is understood that Erasmus will be staying behind to coach the players during a camp that will have a strong conditioning emphasis but also deal extensively with onfield strategy.
During that fortnight to three weeks that the playing Boks will be away in Australasia a lot of groundwork can be laid for the Boks to take on board the Stormers defensive system - though conditioning does have to be a big part of this as the secret to the Stormers’ proud defensive record is work-rate.
The Stormers conceded just 257 points and 18 tries in 17 matches in Super Rugby in 2011, while the Springboks leaked tries to an alarming extent during last year’s Tri-Nations. The Bok squad is currently in Cape Town undergoing medical evaluation. The squad for the away leg of the Tri-Nations is to be announced on Saturday.