Picture: 123RF/RADUTUTA
Picture: 123RF/RADUTUTA

Increasingly pressured Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has admitted that a heavy defeat to New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday could put his job on the line.

Speaking after the Boks’ arrival in Wellington on Monday before the showdown against the All Blacks‚ Erasmus said that the pressure would mount on him if his charges perform poorly against a side that has lost just one Test match at home since 2009.

Erasmus signed a six-year contract as Bok coach at the beginning of 2018 and it is supposed to carry him through two World Cups. But given that the Boks take on the all-conquering All Blacks after defeats to Argentina and Australia‚ the SA coach is well aware there is much unhappiness at home.

Facing the world’s best rugby side away from home could not have come at a worse time for Erasmus as South Africans will remember the Boks suffered a record 57-0 drubbing the last time they were in New Zealand.

“Maybe I will not be fired immediately but pressure will definitely mount‚” Erasmus said.

“For me to survive is very important and if we can beat the All Blacks here‚ everyone will think that there is growth and we have a realistic chance of winning the World Cup next year. But if we do badly … it will be a different story.”

Erasmus insisted that he was still the right man to take the Springboks back to the top. But he added he needed more time from the fans to get things right.

“I want SA to go back to where they were in the past‚” he said. “I want to see New Zealand do their haka intimidation and think we are a real threat and feel they are going to have a tough test and struggle to beat us. I love the Boks‚ I played 39 times for them and I want us to be back at the top.”

Part of his plan to take the Boks to the top is giving the younger players experience so that they can go to the 2019 World Cup in Japan confident and ready to take on the world.

“I want to see us grow and us being contenders at the World Cup‚ and that is what this championship is all about‚” he said.

“If you say it is a young team and it is developing‚ people will say it is excuses … What I am saying is that we are not in a building phase.

“We are adapting a different mind-set, which is not only about worrying about the next Test match but the future of SA rugby. That is the World Cup.”

It is about becoming “one of the top-ranked teams in the world and building a team that is representative of the country.

“We must decide whether we are going to pick guys who have enough Test caps and narrowly lose by five or six points to Australia and New Zealand away from home or pick new faces and get a hiding.

“If we pick new faces‚ those guys will know how it feels to play against Australia and New Zealand away from home and next time when they come back here they will know how it feels.”