Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says beating the All Blacks in Wellington was one of the team’s prime targets before the season started.
The Boks claimed a historic 36-34 victory on Saturday, their first in New Zealand since 2009.
‘Of my coaching career, definitely,’ Erasmus said when asked if it was the best win of his career. ‘We lost two games on the trot [against Argentina and Australia]. We were very close to losing three in a row and that puts pressure [on the team] and takes a lot of belief away.
‘We could have lost this game in the last minute, so we were a bit lucky. But we are very relieved and very proud to beat New Zealand in New Zealand.
‘Our big thing was – and all respect to New Zealand – when we started the planning we said one way of coming back [from a couple of poor seasons] was beating New Zealand in New Zealand and that was months ago.
‘When we lost those two games in a row, you do lose some belief but we always targeted this game to turn things around and be real contenders at the World Cup.
‘We could have lost it in the last second, but this gives us a lot of belief, which is a big compliment to New Zealand because nobody beats them here. We are privileged to be one of those teams.’
However, Erasmus was keen to remind everyone of the reality of where the Springboks are in the world rankings.
’We are No 6 or 7. We still have to catch up to New Zealand, Australia and England. There are so many teams ahead of us, there is no way we can get ahead of ourselves. This is one win against the world’s best team, with a bit of luck.
‘We are far off [the All Blacks] and got a lot of work to do. We are definitely not where we want to be and the players and I know it. We have a lot of hard work to do.’
Erasmus praised his side’s defensive effort as they made over 200 tackles in the match to keep the All Blacks from scoring a potential winner.
‘If you look at our game against Argentina, we had 70% possession, they defended so well and beat us by 13 points.
‘The game nowadays is so quick, there is a transition where somebody scores a try out of nothing. Normally it goes against us and in this game, it went for us. We scored tries from nothing and had to defend for what felt like hours.
‘There was always that last pass that New Zealand could have stuck and they could have given us a massive hiding. It was a good gutsy effort defensively but I also thought the system was good.’
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