PRETORIA – Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus will want to avoid a hat-trick of consecutive losses when they face the New Zealand All Blacks this weekend. Here are some issues he has to consider:
Erasmus will need to clear up his own mind about what it is exactly that must be done to rectify the state of his team. Erasmus cannot afford to make decisions out of panic and on a whim as was the case when he pulled off hooker Bongi Mbonambi in the first half citing that the Stormers hooker had emptied his tank.
The Mbonambi decision may just come back to haunt Erasmus as it shows his lack of faith and trust in certain players and that may be enough to divide the team.
This has often tripped up Erasmus’ predecessors and it seems to be doing the same to the former Bok flank.
Erasmus has to pick right firstly based on form and then the combinations that work. He has to learn to be loyal to performance and to who best will execute the plan to dismantle the opposition. Reputations won’t be enough to beat the All Blacks and Erasmus will need to be bold in choosing the right men to do the job.
Erasmus also has to be fair to the players and give them equal opportunities to prove that they are worthy of their selection, even those playing off the bench.
The Boks are in desperate need of a plan, a winning plan. Far too often the Springboks seem to be going through the motions and making decisions purely on what they think best suites the situation. That won’t fly against the All Blacks and the Springboks will need a plan on how to stop the world champions and at the same time how to beat them.
Trying to stop the All Blacks is near impossible but many teams struggle to know what to do when their fate is still in the palms of their hands.
The one thing that wins Test matches and trophies is defence. The Springboks' defence is almost non-existent and that shows in the 20 tries they have leaked in the seven Tests under Erasmus.
So far in the Rugby Championship, the Springboks conceded nine tries in three Tests and that is a shocking statistic for a side that wants to win Test matches.
The Springboks will need to fix their defence if they are to have any chance of stopping the All Blacks from running riot and of also giving themselves an opportunity of doing the impossible.