• Matfield: Boks must regain self-belief

    Victor Matfield says that the poor performances by South Africa’s Super Rugby teams against Kiwi opposition have contributed to the national side’s struggles against the All Blacks, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

    The All Blacks beat the Boks 20-18 in the World Cup semi-final at Twickenham on Saturday. It was a result that many expected, and a result that boosts New Zealand’s impressive record against South Africa to seven wins from eight in a four-year period.

    On Sunday, the Boks’ most senior player was asked to reflect on the one-off loss as well as South Africa’s record against New Zealand in recent times. Matfield is one of the few players of this generation to have beaten the All Blacks both home and away. He was part of the side that clouted New Zealand in three consecutive matches in 2009. Matfield has also won three Super Rugby titles with the Bulls.

    The 126-Test lock has also been part of some disappointing defeats to the All Blacks over the past two years. Matfield insisted that the Boks were just one play away from winning the 2015 semi-final this past Saturday. And yet another defeat to the traditional foe highlighted the need for change.

    ‘What we need to do is get our Super Rugby back up there. We have to be more competitive against the New Zealand teams,’ Matfield said.

    ‘Maybe the introduction of central contracting will help control the management of players next season. We need to beat New Zealand teams week in and week out. We have to start building that confidence again.

    ‘If you look at the Boks’ matches against the All Blacks over the past seven years or so, the margins have been very small. We could have won a lot of those games, but we didn’t.

    'Perhaps that has impacted on our belief. We used to have that belief [that we could beat them], but perhaps we’ve lost it. We need to get that belief back.’

    Overall, South Africa’s teams won just six of their 20 matches against Kiwi opposition in 2015. It’s a drop when compared to the 2014 season, which witnessed seven wins as well as two draws.

    South Africa’s teams won one from 10 in New Zealand this season. Last year, the Sharks won both their matches in the Land of the Long White Cloud to boost South Africa’s Super Rugby win ratio to 20%. Unbelievably, this country has done even worse in 2015 than it did in 2014 in terms of beating the Kiwis in their own backyard.

    New Zealand’s best teams don’t seem to have the same problems when they tour South Africa. They won 50% of their matches in South Africa in 2014, and they maintained that standard in 2015.

    Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

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    Jon Cardinelli