Padua — Allister Coetzee did not talk about his future after his team’s 35-6 beating of Italy at the Stadio Euganeo on Saturday.
The Springbok coach did not need to. His team did the talking on his behalf as they replicated training field routines and blackboard battle plans against a team that was responsible for their nadir in 2016.
After the match, which was played in atrocious conditions, the coach was happy and a little relieved.
He lauded the effort of his forwards. "It was one of the best performances of the Springbok pack in tough conditions."
Coetzee was particularly chuffed that his players had responded to what they were exposed to in the build-up.
"What is pleasing is when you work hard off the field and it translates into the match.
"Our leadership was excellent. They had patience in our plan‚" he said.
Bongi Mbonambi‚ who had to fill the boots of Malcolm Marx at hooker‚ did so with aplomb.
"It was everything we trained in the week‚" Mbonambi said.
"We didn’t rush ourselves‚ we stuck to the plan. It was an awesome team performance."
In the build-up, Coetzee spoke about the need to confront the Italians’ head on.
"It was a clinical performance from the team‚" Coetzee said. "I’m very pleased with our physicality‚ as well as the set piece performance‚ scrums and line-outs."
Mbonambi said that they expected Italy to be full frontal in their approach but that the Boks were happy to fight fire with fire. "In the build-up, we knew Italy would bring it to us on their home ground‚" Mbonambi said.
"We just prepared for a maul battle‚ in particular the pick and goes around the ruck.
"We had to be up for the defence. We did the hard work in the week."
Coetzee was over the moon that his team stood their ground in defence.
"Our defence in general was really superb‚" he said.
"In the first 10 minutes, the Boks were under the cosh and the Italians were coming phase after phase.
"The most important thing for us is how we learned playing in these conditions.
"I’m happy this team has learned from the Irish game and the French game.
"It was clinical and composed. I was really proud of their team and their effort."
What would have been less pleasing was some of his team’s out of hand kicking.
Fullback Andries Coetzee in particular looked a little at sea.
The high ball continues to be an area in which the Boks need greater buoyancy.
Courtnall Skosan made one ham-fisted attempt of almost comedic proportions.
Despite the comprehensive victory, the Springboks still have shortcomings. Best Coetzee and Co do not paper over the cracks in the build-up to Saturday’s Test against Wales.
Springbok loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira looks likely to miss Saturday’s clash against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Mtawarira was helped off the field in the first half in the Springboks’ convincing victory over Italy.
"We have to make sure on Mtawarira [by Sunday]‚" said the Bok coach.
"I’m not too positive about it. Hopefully, we get better news.
"It’s his quad‚ close to the groin area‚" Coetzee said about Mtawarira, his most experienced player’s injury. Mtawarira will not be the only starter from the match against Italy to miss out this week.
The clash falls outside the international window, which means No8 Duane Vermeulen‚ flank Francois Louw‚ lock Franco Mostert and flyhalf Elton Jantjies return to their northern hemisphere-based clubs.
At this stage, it looks unlikely that a replacement will be summoned for Mtawarira.
To lose three forwards with a total of 194 caps will take its toll on any team but the national team will get flanker Siya Kolisi back from paternity leave.