Faf de Klerk says the Springboks must back up their famous win over the All Blacks with another clinical performance against the Wallabies this Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Port Elizabeth.
After suffering back-to-back defeats against Argentina and Australia away from home, the Boks left their best for last as they shocked the All Blacks in Wellington in their final tour game.
It’s a victory that has lifted the spirits of the South African rugby public, which was reflected by the decent crowd that turned up at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to watch the Springboks’ opening training session on Monday. Come 5pm this Saturday, that stadium is expected to be filled to its capacity of 46,000.
When fronting up to a small media contingent on Heritage Day, De Klerk reiterated that they had received an especially warm welcome in the Friendly City, but he also moved to emphasise that the Boks have now put that All Blacks win behind them.
‘We enjoyed that victory of course, but our focus has now completely shifted to Australia,’ he insisted. ‘We’ve spoken about consistency and to back up our performances. We don’t to be a team that beats New Zealand one week and then plays mediocre rugby the next. One of our goals this week is to improve completely on our performance …
‘On their day, I really don’t think Australia are a worse team than New Zealand, and so we know how tough it’s going to be. We have to get our details 100%, then the passion and pride will come through automatically. There’s a great focus for everyone to know their job, and then to execute.’
However, De Klerk said one of the key benefits from the win over the All Blacks is that the Springboks have now seen just what they are capable of.
‘Belief is a good word to use because the guys now realise our potential as a team. Through that win, we’ve set the bar, and need to keep raising it. It also gives the whole country belief in us, and in the team structure. So we need to back up that performance and keep moving forward towards the World Cup.’
The Boks will also have not forgotten the agonising defeat that they suffered against the Wallabies in Brisbane earlier this season. De Klerk admitted that it was a match where they were often their ‘own worst enemy’.
The influential No 9 said the Boks had spoken about the need to continue converting the opportunities they are regularly creating.
‘The number of opportunities we had against Argentina [in Mendoza] was unheard of, but we did not convert them. Then against Australia‚ there were so many tries we could have scored, but that we didn’t. We want to be cut-throat when we have opportunities.
‘If you get 10 chances, and you finish seven, that is great, but our conversion rate is not good enough at the moment. We are not playing bad rugby‚ but we are just not always converting opportunities into points. At least we know that and are working on it though.’
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