Springboks plot return to top form
July 11, 2010
New Zealand's Brad Thorn fends off a tackle from South Africa's Gurthro Steenkamp during their clash at Eden Park © Getty Images
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers insists there will be "no panic" as his side look to bounce back from their Eden Park mauling at the hands of New Zealand.
The Springboks were outmuscled on their way to a 33-12 defeat in Auckland and are under pressure to conjure an immediate turnaround in form ahead of another meeting with their old rivals in Wellington next weekend.
"Obviously we're disappointed, but we'll put that behind us and on Monday we'll start from zero," Springboks prop Gurthro Steenkamp said. "There's a new Test match waiting for us. All the guys will be up for it and definitely it will be a battle again."
The Bulls forward readily accepted that the All Blacks deserved their victory, which included a bonus point after scoring four tries to none. Steenkamp said New Zealand dominated territory and made life difficult for the South African forwards, who often found themselves on the back foot as the opposition got quick ball from the breakdown.
However, he believed there had been parity in the scrums except for "one or two scrums when we got caught off guard" and also when lock Bakkies Botha was sinbinned in the first half after the Springboks were warned for persistent infringing.
"Otherwise it was fairly even," Steenkamp said. "We were a bit vulnerable when Bakkies was off and we had to shift around, but at the end of the day it was a fair contest up front and I felt the guys did well."
Coach Peter de Villiers accepted that the defending champions couldn't have played any worse than they did in the Tri-Nations opener but remains positive. I'm looking forward to this week. There's nothing we can't fix."
"There is no need to panic. There is nothing that we cannot fix. We played too much rugby in our own half and we did not have the aggression that the All Blacks showed. If we allow them to compete with us physically and win the contests, we will pay the price."
De Villiers said the Springboks had their destiny in their own hands. If they allowed the opposition to compete physically with them and to win that contest, then they would have to pay the price.
New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu, who was among the hardest workers in an impressive pack display, said the All Blacks would be looking for further improvement. "It was nice to see our performance come together," he said. "But although it was really good, there were a couple of opportunities we blew. We can still pick it up a couple of notches."
Mealamu said the All Blacks' scrum started well and was able to carry that through the rest of the game, while in the lineouts, it was a case of being clever and executing well. "I know the Springboks have a lot of size, but we have a smart lineout," he said. "In big games like this, we just have to make sure we execute well and we did that."