BLOEMFONTEIN – Allister Coetzee says the Springboks have taken the 57-0 hiding inflicted on them by the All Blacks 10 days ago “on the chin” and are now ready to move on.
They face the Wallabies here on Saturday in a Rugby Championship Test they simply have to win if they are to well and truly put behind them the defeat suffered in Albany.
Coetzee’s Boks kicked off their preparations for the match with a light training session on Monday.
“We have buried Albany,” insisted Coetzee on Monday. “We know we had a sub-standard game, but we have put it behind us and are busy with our turnaround strategy.
“The players and management have had a meeting, and we all want to make things right this week.
“The reality is the All Blacks were unbelievably good last week, everything worked out for them. We were poor in the set-pieces and we turned over ball, and basically hanged ourselves,” said Coetzee.
“But that defeat won’t define us. We’re not going to sweep it under the carpet, but so far we have won five out of seven this season, and at times we’ve played outstanding rugby.
“What is key now is our response... it’s massive,” said a relaxed Coetzee at the Boks’ Bloemfontein hotel in Nelson Mandela Drive.
He added he was confident his players would respond positively to the challenges facing them in the coming days.
“We have a huge responsibility as the Bok team. We’re hurting, just like the fans are hurting, so the next two weeks are very important.
“It’s going to show what the character is of this team, the next two weeks will reveal if the youngsters have learnt and improved ... the next two weeks are about digging deep. That is what will define this team.”
Coetzee said the Wallabies would be hungry to inflict more pain on the Boks, especially with the match being played at altitude in conditions that will suit their running, phase-based game.
“It rained just before our match in Perth, but they’ll fancy their chances with their ball-in-hand approach this weekend.
“The Wallabies are never easy at altitude, and they’ll back their strong set-pieces and back division to get them over the line this week... with their phases and quick-ball approach.
“We are certainly going to have to be a lot better than we were the last time we faced them. We were maybe a bit too passive then, so will need some urgency in our game this weekend.”
* Meanwhile, the African News Agency (ANA) reports that New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe will take charge of the Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and Australia in Bloemfontein on Saturday. The match will kick-off at 5.05pm at the Toyota Stadium.
Later in the day, just after midnight SA time at 12.40am, New Zealand will play hosts Argentina at Estadio Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires.
South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will be the man in charge of the contest to conclude the weekend’s action.