Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he is happy to have a fully fit squad to choose from for the Springboks’ Castle Lager Outgoing Tour opener against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Eben Etzebeth, who sustained an ankle niggle during a recent training camp, will lead the Springboks against Ireland in the first of four Tests on tour, which also includes matches against France, Italy and Wales.
Coetzee also explained the Springboks’ approach towards the coming month-long tour: “Our mindset is that it’s not the end of year tour – this tour is about making sure we improve as a group and keep on growing as a team, while also staying on course with our 2019 plan.
“This is an important tour for us and our standard of play has to be at the level of our last match against New Zealand in Cape Town,” said Coetzee.
The Springbok coach also spoke very highly of the Irish side: “They are really a top-class side with an experienced coaching team and quality players. There is no doubt we have to be at our best on Saturday.
“Our ability to adapt to the conditions, and how we want to play, will be tested. I know that up here (northern hemisphere) there will be many contests, and the arial bombardment will be one it.
“In that respect Ireland have a great weapon in their halfback pair as both are prolific kickers, and as a combination, they are world-class. It will be important to win the many small battles and our focus will be to improve execution in all departments,” said the Springbok coach.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby has confirmed that Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan will join Munster from 19 November to take up his new position as head coach. Van Graan, who has been with the Boks since 2012, will therefore still be involved in the forthcoming Tests against Ireland and France.
Coetzee lauded Van Graan’s contribution to the Springboks: “Johann has made a massive contribution to the Springboks over the last few years. Besides his excellent technical and coaching abilities, he is also a very good person.
“He will be a big loss for the Springboks and is a massive gain for Munster. He has been an outstanding assistant coach for us and his knowledge of the game is second to none. Johann is an unbelievable hard worker and is technical very astute,” said Coetzee.
The Springbok team to face Ireland will be named on Thursday.0