Wallabies centre Bernard Foley says that players who have performed in Super Rugby need time to make a successful transition to Test level, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.
Much has been made of the fact that the Boks once again opted to omit powerful Lions inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg from their squad for the final two Rugby Championship Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
Foley fronted up to members of the media in Johannesburg on Monday, and when asked whether he was surprised that Van Rensburg continued to be ignored, he said ‘yes and no’.
‘One has to remember that guys need time to find themselves at Test level. If you look at the Springboks’ halves combination [of Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies] for example, they were very successful in Super Rugby, and they deserved a chance at Test level. But they’re probably still trying to find their way and what works at Test level compared to Super Rugby. It's very different.
‘There are quite a few [Bok] players at the start of their Test careers, and so they are probably still building that belief and connection that they had in Super Rugby as they try to transfer that to Test level.’
After last year’s World Cup, the Wallabies suffered a sequence of five successive losses, but they recently backed up an important win over the Boks in Brisbane with a resounding victory against Argentina.
Foley said the Wallabies could certainly relate to the pressure the Boks found themselves under as they now return home after a run of three consecutive defeats overseas.
‘It’s always tough when you go through periods of not winning games. I think for the Boks, there are a lot of new personnel and they’ve had quite a big change from the World Cup last year. It’s about sticking to what they know and finding the way they want to play. I’m sure every game they play together, the combinations will continue to gel and they’ll find more of themselves. What better way for them to come home and be inspired by being at home? We’re certainly expecting a hostile crowd at Loftus.’
With the Wallabies having also encountered intense public pressure after their poor run of form at the start of this Test season, Foley said they were fully aware of how determined the Bok team would be to respond in front of their home fans.
‘Every home country demands a lot of their team and every team wants to be successful. Test-match rugby goes through ebbs and flows when teams are successful or not. You’re seeing two teams that are really striving to find that winning culture. The Springboks have probably not done as well as they would have liked recently, but we know how hard they’ll be working to rectify that. We expect them to be a different beast at home.’
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images