Lood de Jager says a change in mentality to make the second Test against the British & Irish Lions “more personal” helped the Springboks level the three-Test series.
The Springboks’ 27-9 win over the Lions in the second Test drew them level at 1-1 after a disappointing performance in the first Test when the tourists claimed a 22-17 victory.
There has been plenty of discussion as to what sparked the Boks’ improved performance in the second Test, especially seeing as they went into the break trailing 9-6 and fortunate not to be further behind.
Part of the focus has been on the improved impact from the Bomb Squad, with De Jager among the Bok substitutes to make a superb impact in the second half of the second Test, swinging the game in the Boks’ favour.
During Monday’s Springbok media briefing, De Jager explained that it was a change in mentality that helped the Springboks spark an inner flame to bounce back.
“Obviously, we were disappointed with what we brought as a bench in that first Test. It may be a bit of game time together, it may be a bit of rustiness. But we don’t want to make any excuses,” De Jager said. “We disappointed ourselves, our coaches and the country.
“For us, not just the bench, but the starting lineup, coaches, management, everybody, we said we are going to make this personal. It’s about going out there and playing for your family, the people of this country, people that are less privileged than you.
“So, for us, it was just to make it a bit more personal. I think that fired us up as a bench as well.”
Lions coach Warren Gatland said after this past Saturday’s result that after seeing the emotion the Boks had given in that victory, he wondered whether they could do that again in the decisive third Test.
This, of course, raises the question as to whether the Springboks have risked putting to much emotion into the second Test match.
“Firstly, it’s about understanding what it’s about. It’s about more than yourself,” De Jager said in answering that question. “You’re representing the whole country. Another thing is keeping each other accountable as players and coaches. That means coaches keeping players accountable and players keeping each other accountable, driving standards.
“Hopefully, we can carry that same energy into this weekend’s deciding Test match.”
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