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Important week for Boks as Tests approach

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber stressed the importance of using their time on the training field constructively from a conditioning and game perspective this week, with the Test matches against Georgia and the Castle Lager Lions Series fast approaching.

The Springboks returned to the training field on Monday after a well-deserved rest over the weekend and Nienaber said it was vital that they used the time wisely as they prepare to transition into Test match mode next week.

The Springboks will return to the field on Friday 2 July for the first time since winning the Rugby World Cup final in 2019, when they face Georga in the first of two Tests at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

This will trigger a string of internationals featuring another Test against Georgia on Friday 9 July at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, a match-up between the South Africa ‘A’ team and the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday 17 July, and three Tests against the UK tourists on Saturday 24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively.

“Our goal in camp is to familiarise everyone with the way the team plays and to keep up the intensity (at training),” said Nienaber.

“This is an important week for us because it is the last week of training without a Test match, so we can push the load and conditioning. We are also working on our language on the field.”

Nienaber added: “In our first Test it will be important to get used to international rugby again.

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“We need to get used to the pace and physicality of the game, and the small margins in international rugby because it is different to club rugby.”

The British & Irish Lions will take the field against Japan at Murrayfield in Scotland on Saturday before departing for South Africa on the eight-match tour, which will culminate in the Test Series against the Springboks, and while Nienaber said the Bok coaching staff would watch the match, he was wary of attaching too much significance to their style of play in the encounter.

“We will watch the Japan game (against British & Irish Lions), but I don’t think Warren (Gatland – British & Irish Lions head coach) will show his hand,” said Nienaber.

Commenting on the Springboks’ preparations, Nienaber said: “There are certain things that we have to get in place, and high-performance boxes we have to tick, and we believe those aspects will be important for us.”

Nienaber expected Cheslin Kolbe (fullback) and Rynhardt Elstadt (utility forward), who will be involved in the French Top 14 final between Toulouse and La Rochelle this weekend, to arrive in South Africa early next week after completing their club commitments and receiving their final COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday.