• ‘I can turn this around’

    Allister Coetzee insists that he hasn't 'lost the change room' despite the Boks slipping to a historic first-ever loss to Italy on Saturday.

    The shock result served as the Boks' seventh defeat in 11 Tests this year, with Coetzee's charges having already lost to Ireland at home and the Pumas in Argentina for the first time during an embarrassing 2016 season. The Boks also suffered their heaviest defeat at home against the All Blacks in Durban.

    In the immediate aftermath of Saturday's loss in Florence, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said they would only conduct a review of the Boks' performances following next weekend's Test against Wales, without being drawn on what changes may or not be made.

    At the Boks' post-match press conference in Florence, the Times Media Group reported that Coetzee remained mum on his future.

    'My future is out of my hands but this was definitely not Springbok standard,' Coetzee said. 'This is the darkest and toughest moment of my coaching career. But I don’t want to look at it emotionally now because emotions are high. I’m in a difficult position. It’s not easy.

    'I still think I’m the man that can turn it around and I don’t believe I’ve lost the change room. We have a plan and the players bought into it. But somehow when the pressure was on and Italy stayed close and got belief, we [the players] went outside the plan again. The plan is always there. There is never a moment when I could say the players put in the work.'

    In a press statement released later on Saturday night, Coetzee conceded that it was 'not good enough for the Springboks to lose to Italy'.

    'Compared to us, they played without any pressure on them while we looked like a team that lacked self-belief and had a fear of failure.'

    Captain Adriaan Strauss said the team was very disappointed by the performance against Italy.

    'We are not going to offer any excuses, what happened today was not worthy of what we stand for as a team and as a rugby playing country. We are in a dark place at the moment and we must get ourselves out of it.'

    Photo: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

    Post by

    Craig Lewis