The Boks are coming off a shock loss to Argentina in Mendoza last weekend, and are under pressure to now win on the road, against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday and New Zealand in Wellington.
Last weekend’s defeat came just seven days after the Boks had opened their Rugby Championship account with a resounding win against Argentina in Durban. The Boks now have a 50 percent win record under new coach Rassie Erasmus, having won three games and lost three.
De Bruin, who is employed on a part-time basis with the national side, in charge of the team’s attacking component, said it was time rugby fans realised the Pumas are no longer the whipping boys of southern hemisphere rugby.
“Argentina are a bloody strong side. Their Super Rugby team, the Jaguares (who are basically the same players), won eight games on the trot this year,” said De Bruin.
“They play together all the time; there’s so much togetherness in their team. They’ve got up to par now.
“When you do beat them, like we did in Durban two weeks ago, you must play well, and we did,” added De Bruin.
“Also, not too many teams go to Argentina and beat them there whether it’s the Jaguares or the Pumas. They’ve got a home crowd behind them, the 50/50 calls go their way they’re a better team than people think.”
De Bruin went on to suggest the Boks needed some help from this country’s Super Rugby teams, too, who also regularly fail to win in South America, and in recent times, anywhere away from local grounds.
“When our franchises have done well in Super Rugby, like in 2007, the national team has also done well. But what must the national coach do when our teams finish second, eighth, 11th and 15th?” asked De Bruin.
“It’s tough for him to get the combinations going. We must remember the main goal still is the World Cup and Rassie (Erasmus) doesn’t have the luxury of having two or three years to prepare the team. Every team must go through the ebbs and flows, but at national level people don’t want to hear that.
“I believe Rassie is on the right track, otherwise I wouldn’t be involved. His methods are sound, but patience is what we need (from the public). That’s the catch-22 we still have to find a way to win.”
De Bruin used his own Super Rugby team, the Lions, as an example for the Boks who, while Erasmus might be building a team and trying combinations, still need to find positives when they don’t win.
“We (the Boks) didn’t play well in Mendoza, but those are the matches where you have to try and sneak a win, but if you don’t, then at least take a point away.
“In Super Rugby we (Lions) had a few bad games, but we snuck through against the Sunwolves, and when we lost we bagged bonus points. At the end of the competition we had nine bonus points, more than any other team, and that helped us. You’ve got to try and come away with something, always.”
De Bruin, though, said Erasmus and the Bok team would have learned a great deal about themselves over the last few Tests, something that would hopefully stand the team in good stead in Australasia over the next two weeks.
“One thing, we mustn’t get conservative,” said De Bruin. “But, we must get the set-plays working better, get our discipline up there, limit the penalties, and stick to certain things.We didn’t stick to the plan in Mendoza.
“So far we’ve dominated possession and territory, we scrummed well in Durban against a very strong team, and at stages we played brilliant rugby against England in June. We just need to keep backing the system because our leadership is strong and this is really a passionate bunch of players.”@jacq_west