‘Boks should challenge All Blacks’

What NICK MALLETT  had to say on SuperSport about the Springboks' 35-12 win over France at Ellis Park.

'This was a very scrappy game and in my view it didn’t have the quality of last week’s game. In this game alone, there were 21 handling errors, four lost driving mauls. France had 60% possession and 58% territory, as they did in the previous Tests, which means we’re scoring tries, but they’ve got the ball.

'So we are tackling and tackling and working hard for each other. And that is one area where the Springboks have made a massive step up from last year. Our rhythm was off today, because I think the coordination between scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and flyhalf Elton Jantjies wasn’t there, but on defence we worked our butts off and it’s just fantastic.

OPINION: Defence pays dividends for Boks

'There were superb kick-chases and what they call a “wolfpack defence”, where everyone works for each other, and that comes from Brendan Venter and the whole Saracens brotherhood culture. In my opinion that change in the camp has been generated by Venter’s strong personality and it has really made a huge difference.

'There were three very similar Tests and 3-0 was exactly what the Boks set out to do. We scored four tries in each game and a lot of the tries we scored were off French errors. I was not bitterly disappointed with the French, but I thought they were poor and we made them look even worse. They just didn’t look well-coached, were poorly prepared and didn’t look up for the physical contest.

'I’m not looking for excuses for France. They have a huge number of players. We also go on tour in November when our players are tired after a long season and we expect our team to win. You are paid to be a professional rugby player and to represent your country and you should perform. Especially for a side like France, who has a proud history of touring South Africa and doing well. So this was a disappointing team.

ALSO READ: Five takeaways from past weekend

'I know they’re trying to close that chapter off, but unfortuntunately our performances last year stick in the minds of the South African supporters and that is one of the reasons we only had 15,000 people at the Test in Pretoria. At least it improved in Durban with 35,000 people, and there were over 50,000 at Ellis Park on Saturday. It’s incredible what the Boks can do if they start winning.

'Imagine if this Bok team had to play the Ireland side of last year, which was well-coached and well-structured by Joe Schmidt. My belief is that we would have beaten them 3-0 this time around. We won it 2-1 quite luckily last year.

'But this year our team is working so hard at those unseen things. Those things we don’t notice unless you look out for them. The linespeed of the forwards after a kick, the hard work around the ruck and getting to their feet, the lack of laziness, the enthusiasm when a teammate does well, those are the little things I’m talking about.

WATCH: Springbok post-match press conference 

'Just have a look when Rudy Paige scored that try. He was engulfed by about 12 other Springboks, the poor little guy. They were so happy for him, so clearly Paige is a personality that the team respects. He is a starter in the team and they still respect him.

'The captaincy of Warren Whiteley has a huge amount to do with that. The leadership of your captain sets the tone and he is a caring guy. He obviously makes a big effort with everyone in his team and as I mentioned, Venter works very hard on those areas of the game that go unnoticed.

'I can guarantee you these guys will go back to Super Rugby, but will be looking forward to getting back together to prepare for the Rugby Championship. Remember, Argentina are in disarray. They lost to England’s C team twice. Australia lost to Scotland and very nearly lost to Italy in Brisbane on Saturday. So we should win all four our games against those two teams and we should be challenging the All Blacks.'

Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images

Post by

Nick Mallett