SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, lauded a number of players for superb individual performances in the Springboks’ 35-17 win over Australia in Johannesburga but said the team will have to improve as they build towards the Rugby World Cup.
The Boks scored five tries to two, with Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) grabbing two on debut as South Africa recorded a full-house of five Rugby Championship log points at Ellis Park.
Apart from Herschel Jantjies’ brace, Lood de Jager (lock), Sbu Nkosi (right wing) and Cobus Reinach (replacement scrumhalf) also scored tries, while Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) converted all five tries.
“A few guys certainly put their hands up for Rugby World Cup selection and although there was some rustiness and all our combinations weren’t settled, we are still happy with the win,” said Erasmus.
“At times we were frustrated with how things went, and we were also lucky as they had a try disallowed for a forward pass and lost the ball over the line.
“The same happened in some Tests last year – some you win, some you lose, but we’ll take it and say 'thanks', but we’re under no illusions that this was far from a world class performance. So the biggest positive from the Test was probably individual performances.
“From a team performance perspective, this isn’t how we want to play, quality wise, and we’re aware of that. They had our number in the air and we’ll have to look at that, there are a lot of areas we can improve on.”
Erasmus lauded the performances of Herschel Jantjies and Reinach, as well as Frans Steyn, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marcell Coetzee and Francois Louw, all of whom (but Jantjies) joined the squad from overseas and slotted in with ease.
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“I think Herschel showed that he is comfortable at this level, if you consider that he only really made his mark at Vodacom Super Rugby level this year,” said Erasmus.
“Cobus also did very well when he came on. But things can change quickly with injuries and loss of form, so it’s good to have depth.
“Last year Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl did very well at stages, while we also have Faf (de Klerk) and Louis Schreuder, so it’s good to have all these options available. Now we have to consolidate and make sure we get the right 9s to the Rugby World Cup.”
Erasmus, three of his assistant coaches and a group of players went straight from the stadium to the airport to fly to New Zealand, where they will join 13 players and some members of management who left on Thursday.
“We will fly a few more players and management over on Sunday and perhaps some more players on Monday, so that we’ll have a squad of around 34 in New Zealand,” said Erasmus.
“We are not returning to South Africa after the Test in Wellington and will remain in New Zealand for a camp before we go straight to Argentina to face the Pumas.
“But before that, we need to shift our focus to the All Blacks. They also lost some players at home and will be fresh and ready for us.
“It was difficult to select this team as we didn’t want to show any disrespect to Australia, but next weekend we are playing the top side in the world, so we amended our travel plans as we would like to be as fresh as possible over there, otherwise we won’t stand a chance.
“This is a massively important match – the last three Tests between us and them have been very close and could have gone either way, but they are playing at home and will be ready for us.
“I will properly analyse this match against Australia on the plane and when we get to New Zealand, we will look at what our needs are in terms of which players will have to join us over there. We’ll start our preparations in all earnest on Monday.”