The Springboks completed their Castle Lager Rugby Championship training camp on a high note on Thursday with a full day’s work behind them, which paved the way for the players to enjoy a short break with their families before the southern hemisphere series kicks off next week.
The squad wrapped up the week’s on-field preparations with a double training session on Thursday, and coach Jacques Nienaber was content with the work done as they prepare to make the transition into a full Test-match week from Sunday.
The Springboks will face Australia at Loftus Versfeld in their opening game of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Saturday, 8 July, which will be followed by a Test against New Zealand at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland a week later (Saturday, 15 July). They will wrap up the competition against Argentina at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday 29 July.
“We’ve had a productive three weeks in Pretoria, and we’re pleased with where the players are, going into the first Test next week,” said Nienaber. “We did a lot of groundwork on and off the field at this camp and the players and coaches are aligned in terms of what we want to see and achieve on the field.
“Jean-Luc du Preez was also cleared to join us from the beginning of this week, which means we had an opportunity to work with all the players at stages during the last three weeks, and that will bode well for us going into the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.”
Nienaber added: “We also have a clear picture now of the players who are fit and those who are on the road to full recovery to participate in the competition in the next few weeks. It was also fantastic that the injured players could work closely with our medical team daily, and it’s pleasing to see them making such good progress.”
Nienaber said the few days off will benefit the players both mentally and physically, and he had no doubt that they would re-assemble on Sunday in match mode.
“These few days will allow them to refresh on both fronts,” said Nienaber. “The base is now in place, and next week we need to be switched on fully from our first meeting and training session for the Australia Test.
“This is going to be a challenging competition with all the teams looking to build momentum before the World Cup, so we have to hit the ground running if we want to be in the running to win the title.”
Nienaber will announce his team to face Australia on Tuesday, 4 July.
The team will play six matches in total before the Rugby World Cup, with the three outside of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship being warm-up games against Argentina in Buenos Aires (5 August), Wales in Cardiff (19 August) and New Zealand in London (25 August).