Too early in this World Cup for Boks to panic, says De Jager
The Boks resembled a team of ghosts as they travelled to Birmingham the next day to prepare for a game against Samoa, who historically give them nightmares in World Cups. It took a lot for the Boks to pick themselves up and dust themselves off that week.
A survivor from that defeat to Japan who will be in action on Saturday against Namibia is Lood de Jager, probably the Boks’ best player at the last World Cup.
“There is hardly any need to panic, no need to hit the reset button like in 2015,” De Jager said.
“We’ve been doing well this whole year, we’ve been very consistent. One game, where the opposition were also good and you lost, doesn’t mean the alarm bells need to go off.
“We have to win every other pool game, so it’s about focusing on Namibia this week, and controlling what we can control. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself. We’ve seen that at the previous World Cup, losing to Japan. The only difference is that we were expected to beat Japan but didn’t.
"Obviously we really believed we could beat New Zealand - the last few games, the score was 82-82. Losing to them, they were the better team on the day.”
After that first-round catastrophe in 2015, the Boks had two very tough games in Samoa and Scotland, but in 2019 the Boks got their one really big game (with respect to Italy) first up.
“We played against the highest quality opposition in the All Blacks, and while we obviously made our plans, so did the opposition, and I think they won the big moments in the game.
“The scoreboard at the end doesn’t suggest that after 25 minutes we were 3-0 ahead, and then in seven minutes... we were 17-3 behind. I don’t think the scoreboard reflects how tight the game really was. We clawed our way back to 17-13 with 20 minutes to go. Just one or two big moments were handled better by them on the day.
“It’s a long tournament, so you just want to take it game by game and really go out and execute to the best of our abilities against Namibia. They will present a different picture to the All Blacks. For us, it’s just about focusing on ourselves, being decisive in our plan."