Nienaber, widely acknowledged as one of the best defensive coaches in the world, has been the mastermind behind the Stormers’ watertight defensive system but has not renewed his contract with Western Province and the Stormers, which comes to an end in October.
The Bulls recently lost their defensive coach John McFarland to the Springboks, along with forwards coach Johan van Graan, High Performance manager Ian Schwartz and conditioning coach Basil Carzils, and have been on the lookout to replace them with top-class candidates ever since.
With McFarland at the Boks, Nienaber was the obvious target as replacement, especially as supersport.com has learnt he is keen to be closer to his father, who was injured in a home invasion attack recently in Potchefstroom.
The Bulls’ Board of Directors have approved him and a formal offer has been made to Nienaber, who asked to be given time until after the Super Rugby tournament before making a decision.
It is understood the Bulls are currently awaiting his answer, but it has been delayed because of his possible involvement with the Springboks.
Despite McFarland’s presence, SA Rugby’s Director of coaching Rassie Erasmus is keen to apparently have Nienaber consult to the Springboks and it is understood that a counter offer is in the process of being finalised where Nienaber may spend part of his time with the Stormers and the rest with the Springboks.
However, Bulls CEO Barend van Graan offered a “no-comment” reply when asked about the offer to Nienaber, which would be a significant loss to the Stormers.
Whichever way Nienaber decides, it seems at this point his fulltime days at the Stormers may be numbered.
The Bulls’ Board of Directors will also move to secure replacements for the other lost coaches, with Bok forwards coach Johan van Graan’s spot likely to be filled by former captain Victor Matfield.
Matfield has been the lineout consultant to the Bulls’ Super Rugby team and is likely to take up the position as he wants to eventually move into fulltime coaching.
Carzil’s position is likely to be filled by Stephen Plummer, who has already been working with the team for a few years now, with new conditioning coach Andre Volsteedt, son of Grey College principle Johan and former conditioning coach for the Sharks under-19 and under-21 sides, taking the other conditioning role in the side.