CAPE TOWN (AFP) – South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber warned there is still much work to be done ahead of two matches against New Zealand next month despite clinching the series with Wales on Saturday.
South Africa won the third Test 30-14 in Cape Town, and next meet a wounded All Blacks side after their series defeat to Ireland.
Andy Farrell’s side became the first touring team in the professional era to win a series on New Zealand soil, while Australia went down to England.
“It’s a brilliant time for spectators,” said Nienaber. “If you look at the results there is a lot of competition in the top 10 nations.”
The Springboks’ series with Wales was one of four between southern and northern hemisphere teams, all of which were decided in the third and final match.
Argentina joined South Africa in holding off northern hemisphere opposition with a narrow win against Scotland.
Nienaber made it clear that his side needed to prepare thoroughly before home matches against the All Blacks on August 6 and a week later.
“It was not a polished performance,” Nienaber said of the win against Wales.
“I think there’s a lot to build still. I thought the set pieces functioned well but there were a couple of hiccups – at scrum time we’re still getting used to the brake foot thing. We will have to build a lot still in terms of where we are.”
The “brake foot” rule was introduced during this year’s Six Nations Championship and requires hookers to have a foot forward during the referee’s calls of “crouch” and “bind”. It can only be withdrawn on the call of “set”.
“The northern hemisphere nations struggled in the Six Nations but they have got the hang of it now,” said Nienaber.
“We’ll get better at it.”
Nienaber admitted that the “bomb squad” strategy of having six forwards and only two backs on the bench had given the coaching staff a headache on Saturday when star winger Cheslin Kolbe had to leave the field in the 21st minute.
He was replaced by full-back Willie le Roux which led to a reshuffle of the backline.
“A lot of people talk about the bomb squad, but it always comes at a risk,” he said.
“It’s not always ideal when you lose one of your backs, especially a quality back like Cheslin so early in the game.”
Nienaber said starting full-back Damian Willemse, who had to move to centre after the substitution, had injury concerns, as did centre Damian de Allende and fly-half Handre Pollard.
With Le Roux already on the field, Nienaber had to delay bringing on Rugby World Cup-winning scrumhalf Faf de Klerk until the 65th minute in case one of the other backs had to leave the