LAST TEST IN SERIES
Upbeat Kolisi believes the spirit is returning
Springbok vice-captain Siya Kolisi believes that despite the 27-27 draw against Australia‚ it was an improved performance‚ which will give the team confidence with the All Blacks clash looming.
SA and New Zealand meet at Newlands in the final round of the Rugby Championship on Saturday with the title already in the All Blacks’ hands for the fifth time in six years.
New Zealand are undefeated after sending a second-string team to Buenos Aires‚ which beat the Pumas 36-10 in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Boks have not beaten the All Blacks since 2014 and in three matches against New Zealand under Allister Coetzee’s coaching, they have lost by an aggregate score of 52-9.
"I definitely felt it [the draw with Australia] was an improved performance from two weeks ago‚" Kolisi said.
"Against the All Blacks‚ everything went against us from the bounce of the ball to not scoring points when we should have. They punished our mistakes‚ but this week, we managed to put it behind us.
"We gave Australia the respect they deserved. They are also in a rebuilding phase just like us and we knew they would come hard at us.
"Next week will be a different challenge, so we will prepare from Sunday and go all out for the last game in the championship. We have improved and that’s what we want to do. You can’t ask the players to calm down and not try and play, but we have to be more clinical in our execution," he said.
"If we hung on the ball through more phases and made better decisions‚ it could have been different."
The Bok coaching staff continues to see positives and to repeat the message that the players are putting in effort. The mantra of, "we are not results-driven‚ but process-driven" is wearing thin. Surely, elite sports is ultimately about results?
There is clearly no lack of effort or courage by Bok players. It is the nature of a sport that demands physical courage.
Every rugby player from under-7 to Test level‚ displays courage and effort.
What the Boks lack is cutting edge‚ which they again demonstrated through numerous mistakes against the Wallabies.
But coach Coetzee and the players felt it was an improvement on their thrashing against the All Blacks in round four. And, obviously‚ in terms of the scoreline‚ it was.
"We desperately wanted the result today because it was a tough two weeks for us," Kolisi said. "We worked hard and despite the draw, I will go through any tough times with this group because we remain a close group. We worked so hard and didn’t get the reward.
"We were too excited at times‚ perhaps forced a few passes and made some individual errors. But you can’t fault the guys for trying."