Springboks / 27 September 2019, 10:30am / Wynona Louw
The Springboks’ opening World Cup game against the All Blacks is done. Over. In the past. Basically, there’s no point in losing any sleep in a hot and humid Japan over what could have been. It’s pointless.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make it a mission to bounce back strongly in their second pool game against Namibia, tomorrow, though. They simply have to.
While it wasn’t a disastrous performance in Yokohama, it certainly doesn’t rank among the best we’ve seen from the Boks in 2019.
As defence specialist Jacques Nienaber yesterday said - lessons were learnt. And if the Boks can implement all those learnings in their African ‘derby’, that disappointing result against the All Blacks might not have been in vain.
So, here are three things the Boks need to improve on against Namibia.
1. Basic scrumhalf duties
Obviously, with Herschel Jantjies starting this game in the place of Faf de Klerk, this point is more a reflection on where so many things went wrong last week as opposed to what Jantjies should or should not do this week. Still, if we see the same kind of errors from the youngster in the No 9 jumper, there could be serious trouble.
Jantjies has been sensational for the Boks this season, and in many ways one can already say that on form he is the best No 9 the Boks have at the moment.
Basically, he just needs to do more of the same that he has done since the very start.
Because, quite frankly, there can be no poor execution off the base this weekend, no predictability, no missing targets, no aimless box kicks that have become more of a liability than a weapon.
2. Adapt, and keep adapting
The Boks had only good words to say regarding their preparation, so I would hope them fading in the second quarter last week wasn’t a result of struggling with the physical demands of the conditions.
During those opening 20 minutes, it looked as if the All Blacks were going to have to rely on breakaway tries in order to get into the game as they were under a lot of pressure, but they showed how dangerous they are when they punished the Boks for two mistakes with two tries.
Once New Zealand got going, the Boks clearly struggled.
We saw it at the breakdown, we saw it with the All Blacks’ kicking game, we saw it at the line out and maul, we saw it when things just didn’t go their way; the Boks struggled to adapt as soon as they lost control, and they never really seemed interested in changing their strategy when it clearly wasn’t working.
They are going to have to do it tomorrow, and they are going to have to do so consistently.
3. Make those changes
Up until their first World Cup game, I thought Rassie Erasmus’ management of his bench had been superb, but in Yokohama, it was rather puzzling.
There were a couple of changes I thought should have been made much earlier, while one should also wonder why Frans Steyn didn’t feature.
All in all, how the bench is used can be key, and what they do when they come on is just as vital.