“It’s never fun to lose a test. I think disappointed might be a better word to use after the game against New Zealand.”
These were Jacques Nienaber’s words during Thursday’s Springbok media session in Pretoria.
According to the national rugby coach, he tries to put emotions aside when analyzing a match.
He admits that the Boks made hopelessly too many mistakes in the first 20 minutes of the showdown. Poor discipline also led to penalties and the All Blacks enjoyed a 17-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
“We fought back well and the players put themselves in a position to win the game. In the end, however, we weren’t good enough to do that.”
It is true that the South Africans scored more points in the second half than their rugby arch-enemy, but Nienaber admits that this is of little use: after all, a rugby match consists of 80 and not just 60 minutes.
But in a World Cup year it doesn’t help much to sit and brood over a disappointing performance; it is marching forward to build momentum.
The Springboks will play against Argentina in Johannesburg next Saturday and if the Wallabies pull an (unlikely) rabbit out of the hat and settle with New Zealand, the home team can still walk away with the Rugby Championship laurels.
In addition, it is also the Boks’ last home game of the year.
“We don’t want to disrupt our plans for the test against the Argentines. The most important thing now is to manage the players’ workload. It was our main goal to win the Championship, but unfortunately it is no longer in our hands.”
As usual, players will be selected who can show the South Americans a thing or two.
“The team we pick to take on Argentina will be one that we think is good enough to deal with them. The same applies to the teams that served against Australia and the All Blacks.”
According to Nienaber, the players were persuaded to display their best skills in Johannesburg.
“Our last home game is at the iconic Ellis Park. It would be incredible to see a packed stadium. There is nothing as intimidating as a full Ellis Park and it will mean a lot to the players.”
Video: Pieter Cloete