South Africa expect 'proper series' against Wales, says Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber

2 months ago 398
Jacques NienaberJacques Nienaber was named South Africa head coach in January 2020

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber says he is expecting a "proper series" with Wales in July.

Wayne Pivac's team travel to South Africa for three Tests after a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

Wales finished that tournament with a first ever home defeat to Italy, but Nienaber is expecting a tight series.

"If you look at our history with Wales and the facts then in my mind at least, I think it will be a tightly contested series," he told BBC Sport Wales.

Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations after winning just one match - against Scotland - and face what could be a gruelling series against the world champions.

Pivac's men will play Test matches in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town on successive weekends, beginning on 2 July.

"Everybody will remember Wales' last match against Italy but France - who went on to win the Grand Slam - only scored three points in the last 70 minutes of the match with Wales," Nienaber added.

"That shows you the quality Wales have because they can push that French side and it was the same against England, who only just beat Wales by four points.

"Wales always bring a physical edge, they have a well-coached set-piece and defend set-pieces well, and they're tactically smart with a good kicking game.

"I'm under no illusion and am sure it will be a proper series."

Wales ran South Africa close in the last meeting between the two sides, with the Springboks scoring late to secure a 23-18 victory in Cardiff in November 2021.

"Last year in the game on our end of season tour was the first time we had pulled off a victory in Wales since 2013," Nienaber said.

"We only got control of the scoreboard at 73 minutes.

"So I think Wales will be a tough one, especially as they know how we play and we have a pretty good idea of how they play and it's always an arm wrestle."

Welsh expectations heading into the South Africa trip are low given a season of struggles at national and regional level.

Wales' four professional sides failed to finish in the top half of the United Rugby Championship (URC) and none qualified for the end-of-season play-offs.

Three of the four South African sides in the revamped league made the play-offs, while no Welsh sides managed a win in South Africa.

Yet Nienaber says the failings of the Welsh regions will not be to the detriment of the national side this summer.

"With their club sides having not made the play-offs of the URC, they'll have time in camp to prepare for us," he said.

"They will be a well-coached side who have four weeks of preparation time with their coaches, so I think they'll have made plans for us."

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