Jacques Ninaber, one of the heroes who helped turn the Springbok team into world champions, is now heading for zero in the eyes of some critics, and fellow World Cup winner Jake White was the last to score.
White, who has spearheaded the Bulls’ resurgence as director of rugby at Loftus Versfeld, has thinly veiled himself about Ninaber’s lack of coaching experience in column he wrote for Rugby Pass Web site on Thursday.
Criticizing the decision to make 14 changes to Springbok since XV, and having suffered his first historic defeat at home to Wales last weekend in Bloemfontein, White said that Ninaber should have learned not to experiment in this way at test level, but at junior or club level. .
“Making 14 changes clearly didn’t work for the Springboks, and personally I think Jacques Ninaber missed the trick,” White wrote. “There is an expectation that you win every time you play for the colors of South Africa and the difference in test rugby is incredibly small.
“I said the reason for choosing this second Test team was because he didn’t want them to just play dead rubber in the third Test. I would say I don’t think there should ever be a dead tire test when you play at home.
“The job of a national coach is to win control matches. National coaches shouldn’t use tests to see if players are good enough, that’s what A teams or training are for.
“You are not a national coach to teach lessons. You will learn that at the age or club level – I mean it sincerely – there is a reason why people go through the system to become national coaches,” White said.
The often outspoken coach added that Wales would love the prospect of a winner-take-all contest in Cape Town and the situation the Springboks were in.
“What I expect on Saturday is the enormous pressure he [Nienaber] did not need. Ninaber could have won the series and now he has created a real cauldron in Cape Town.
“It is at sea level, and the Welsh will be encouraged by the fact that they participated in the Highveld Trials. Wales will be filled with confidence. I’ve trained against them and the only thing they don’t do is quit.
“Going back to the selection, when Sir Gareth Edwards, one of the greatest players of all time, said it was a slap in the face, I can’t believe it wasn’t a real motivation for the Welsh team.
Wales will not make changes to the winning team. With persistence comes confidence. It’s back to the wall for Bokov and if they don’t get the game right, they could lose the series,” White said.