Warren Whiteley says the Boks cannot afford to spiral into a negative frame of mind after their shock loss to Ireland, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.
Whiteley produced an energetic cameo when he came off the bench at Newlands, but even as the Boks desperately sought to get back into the lead, Ireland were ultimately able to hold on for their first-ever win in South Africa.
Widespread recrimination and criticism has understandably followed, but while Whiteley admitted to doom and gloom in the Bok change room immediately after the game, he insisted that they couldn’t afford for that to linger into a new Test week.
‘For a lot of us, this is a massive learning curve. Most importantly, we have to stay tight as a team and keep believing. There will be disappointments, but we have to get back on the horse and keep working hard. We can’t get into a negative frame of mind or it will just get worse. We have to review where things went wrong, work even harder and get that vibe back up again. We have another chance this weekend and that’s what it’s all about.’
Whiteley insisted that there was no need for drastic changes and that the side had to keep faith in the systems that had been put in place.
‘What I do know is that we have to believe in what we’re doing and stick to it. Allister [Coetzee] has spoken about that, we believe in his vision and his plan and we’re 100% in it. We know that we let him down as a coach in his first Test, we let ourselves down and we let the country down, so we need to rectify that.’
The Boks have now gathered in camp in Johannesburg and will have their first training session at St Stithians College on Monday afternoon. Whiteley said the Boks were fully aware of which areas required work in order to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat.
‘We definitely created opportunities, but we ran [laterally] across the field a bit too much and didn’t straighten well enough. It’s difficult to say whether that’s related to the [lack of] time together, but we will work on that. There was space, but we just didn’t exploit it well enough, and they did well to implement a drift defence, while we didn’t keep them honest by running straight.
‘A lot of the guys have played Test rugby, so there wasn’t a bad frame of mind,’ he added, ‘but our discipline was an issue in the first 20 minutes and that’s what let them in the game. They didn’t have to work hard enough to get into our territory, and they capitalised really well on our ill-discipline. We’ve spoken about that and will address it.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images