And after a decent, if not brilliant 80 minutes Coetzee said there was more to come from Warren Whiteley and his men much more.
“Let’s make one thing clear, we have closed the chapter on 2016,” said a delighted Coetzee after the Boks ran in four tries to two to down France 37-14 in the first Test on Saturday.
“I am happy and pleased with the performance and take note, not necessarily the win, but the performance,” added Coetzee, who went into the match under pressure after just four wins in 12 matches last season.
“What is pleasing is that things we worked on came off, be it in attack, or defence, or in our kicking. We are taking baby steps and this was our first step the first one of 13 this year.
“Nothing is perfect in a game of rugby, but with this win we have showed we are moving in the right direction.”
Indeed, it was an extremely encouraging 80-minute effort. The four debutants performed superbly, Malcolm Marx produced a barn-storming performance at hooker, Eben Etzebeth was colossal in the second row, Siya Kolisi surprised at No 6, as did Oupa Mohoje at blindside, while the backs showed plenty with ball in hand to think there are great things to come.
The game management by Elton Jantjies was good and he varied his options well, while there was a step up in the defensive department, especially late on in the match when the Boks were asked to make several tackles to keep the visitors out, and the set-pieces also functioned well.
“Defending well is about how hard you work, about having the right attitude, and in this team there is real gees (spirit) there’s an awareness to work hard for each other, for the players to put their bodies on the line, a brotherhood that has developed, and that is pleasing,” said Coetzee.
Captain Whiteley said the most satisfying aspect of his team’s performance on Saturday was the intensity in their game.
“I’m proud of the effort put in, the intensity with which we played. The guys were quick off the ground and always ready to play. We had options, too, in our attack, we were resilient in defence, and I thought we worked really hard for each other and we want to take that forward now,” Whiteley said.
He added the win was a good foundation to build on. “This was by no means the perfect performance but the foundation has been laid,” said Whiteley. “We’ll keep our feet on the ground, enjoy the win and start working hard on Monday."