Assistant coach Deon Davids says after an in-depth review of this past Saturday’s loss to the All Blacks, the Boks’ game management has been identified as the main area for improvement.
All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett knocked over a long-range kick to win the game by two points for his side after the Springboks conceded a last-gasp penalty at the death.
The agonising 19-17 defeat has earned the Springboks widespread criticism for their poor game management in the last 10 minutes when they were leading on the scoreboard.
When asked if the Bok backroom staff thought the players had taken the wrong options during those final 10 minutes when the wheels came off and the game was ultimately lost, Davids admitted that better decisions could’ve been made.
“We’ve looked in depth at our game management in the last 10 minutes,” he confirmed. “You must understand that players are under immense pressure and this was a Test where there was a lot of pressure towards the end, a lot of intensity. We’ve looked at it again, and we’re the first to say we could’ve made better decisions in terms of that happened.
“But things happen and there are different reasons why things went wrong at the end. A lot of it has to do with communication and being able to make that split-second decision based on what you see in front of you. And, obviously, our players would’ve learned lessons based on that experience. Looking at the quality of our players and the experience they have, they will understand what they can do better.”
So far, South Africa had relinquished the Rugby Championship title and their status as the No 1-ranked team in the world on the back of three straight defeats (two by the Wallabies and one by the All Blacks), but Davids pointed out that there are plans in place to improve the Boks’ decision-making processes and execution for the remainder of the Test season.
“In training sessions we try to paint scenarios in terms of what we can expect or what happened in past experiences and then expose the players to that and challenge them to make better decisions,” he explained.
“But, as I said, there are a lot of things that go with that decision-making process. Sometimes they make good decisions but the execution isn’t right, sometimes the decision itself is wrong. The more you put players in those scenarios, and the more you use the width of the field in terms of your systems and what you want to achieve – if the players work towards and are exposed to that – the more they’ll start making the right decisions when those scenarios are in front of them again in a game situation.”