The Springbok coaching team hosted their first alignment camp in Durban in April before heading north to meet with a few overseas-based players, and they wrapped up this stage of their preparation with a five-day camp in Cape Town on Thursday.
Nienaber and his assistant coaches touched on several on-field and off-field aspects that will be important for the forthcoming season and with an eye on 2023 Rugby World Cup in France as the Springboks look to retain their ranking as the No 1 team in the world and continue putting the building blocks in place to defend their title at the international extravaganza next year.
The team will kick off their 2022 season with three Tests against Wales in the Castle Lager Incoming Series before launching into the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, where they will line up against the All Blacks in back-to-back home Tests, which will be followed by a tour to Australia and Argentina. They will then return home for their final Test against the Pumas in Durban in September.
“We are satisfied with the alignment camps, and we believe these sessions will be beneficial to ensure a smooth return to the training field before the three Tests against Wales,” said Nienaber.
“While the first alignment in Durban touched on the team’s programme this season and in the lead up to the World Cup in France, as well as a broad overview of what worked last season and what we can improve on, we zoomed into more detail at this camp focusing on the key areas for the team going forward as we turn our attention to the international season and further ahead to the Rugby World Cup.”
Nienaber added: “I’m very happy with the players’ enthusiasm and their desire to keep learning and finetuning the areas of their game that could make a big difference in the quality of our rugby.”
With the alignment camp box being ticked, Nienaber said the next step for the coaches would be to select a squad within the next few weeks for their training camp in Pretoria from Monday, 6 June, where the squad will remain until the conclusion of their first Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 2 July.
“With the alignment camps now behind us we will turn our attention to selecting a national squad before the end of the month and ensuring that we plan as well as possible for our upcoming training camp,” said Nienaber.
“These three back-to-back Tests, in turn, will lay an important foundation for our Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign, so it is vital that we get the minor detail right from the outset.”
Springbok fixtures and SA kick-off times:
Castle Lager Incoming Series:
17h05: Saturday, 2 July – Springboks v Wales (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
17h05: Saturday, 9 July – Springboks v Wales (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)
17h05: Saturday, 16 July – Springboks v Wales (Cape Town)
Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
17h05: Saturday, 6 August – Springboks v All Blacks (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
17h05: Saturday, 13 August – Springboks v All Blacks (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
TBC: Saturday, 27 August – Australia v Springboks (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide)
TBC: Saturday, 3 September – Australia v Springboks (New South Wales, venue TBC)
21h10: Saturday, 17 September – Argentina v Springboks (Estadio Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
17h05: Saturday, 24 September – Springboks v Argentina (Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban)