The beleaguered Springboks had to catch a flight out of Perth to Auckland just five hours after losing to the Wallabies on Saturday night. And things may become even worse on the field when they move to Dunedin at the end of the week to take on the mighty All Blacks.
However, Bok captain Jean de Villiers is trying to stay calm amid the storm. It was one of those vintage Bok nights in the first half, with their power and precision in the forwards, and a good dollop of enterprise at the back quickly chalking up a 13-3 lead. But it all came crashing down in the second half at the Patersons Stadium.
Now the world champion All Blacks are waiting to hit back after their own struggles against Argentina in Wellington. The defeat on Saturday in Perth was the first of coach Heyneke Meyer’s reign in six Tests, although he has also had draws against England and Argentina.
The Bok skipper, however, was not about to give up on his team.
“Everything needs to be put into perspective. I don’t think we can expect to suddenly be the best team in the world and just click and play fantastic rugby. We need to learn from the experiences,” De Villiers said.
“We need to grow as a team, and that takes some time. We want to win every single game, and those pressures from the media and our fans, we definitely feel them at times.
“But we feel that we are on the right track. We played much better rugby today than in the previous game, and hopefully we can improve next week as well.
“It is a young team, but it is Test-match rugby and you don’t have a lot of time to grow at this level. “We need to quickly rectify those mistakes and hopefully get a better result next week.”
The Boks’ quest has been strengthened by the news on Sunday that star All Black flyhalf Dan Carter will miss the Dunedin Test, with the calf strain that kept him out of the 21-5 win over Argentina in Wellington at the weekend still requiring some treatment.
Chiefs No 10 Aaron Cruden is likely to retain the pivot berth after starting against Los Pumas.
And the 23-year-old is surrounded by some of the biggest names in world rugby, including Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane.
De Villiers is adamant that his team can get better against the All Blacks, and he felt that their finishing was one of the main areas that needed attention.
The Boks dominated the Wallabies at times in the first half, but the last pass not going to hand, or a little knock-on or turnover on the ground on attack all contributed to the South Africans losing their grip in the second half.
“To come back from 13-3 down and win a Test match by seven points, that’s pretty special. And credit must go to Australia for doing that. They were also under pressure,” De Villiers said.
Meanwhile, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has been summoned to a Sanzar disciplinary hearing today after being cited for an alleged headbutt on Wallaby counterpart Nathan Sharpe.
Sanzar duty judicial officer Mike Heron initially considered the case yesterday, and deemed that the matter was serious enough to refer it to a hearing.
The only injury concerns for the Boks following the Test against the Wallabies were wing Bryan Habana (ankle) and prop Jannie du Plessis (hamstring), but while they will be assessed again on Monday, the injuries were not believed to be serious. – Cape Times