LIFE AFTER LOFTUS
Kiwis have a lot to ponder after narrow win against Springboks
Despite their disappointing finish, the Springboks gave the All Blacks much to mull over in their 32-30 Rugby Championships defeat at Loftus.
The All Blacks came from 30-13 down to snatch the win, but it is the effort that the Boks delivered in the first hour that would have planted some doubt in Kiwi minds that they are not dead certs to win 2019’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
"I think back to the last World Cup and we snuck home by two points‚" recalled All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
"On the day, SA could easily have won that game. It is about how you respond on the day‚ how you turn up and the challenges that come‚" said Hansen.
Captain Kieran Read noted that the Boks had been more than worthy adversaries of late.
In 2017, they won by a point in Cape Town‚ the Boks by two in Wellington three weeks ago‚ only for the All Blacks to return the favour in Pretoria.
"They showed that they are a very capable side‚" said Read.
"They showed that last year in Cape Town in a helluva tough game. They always have a side with a great pack that gets them moving forward …
"The attacking threat they have out wide makes us analyse them. They’ve scored some awesome tries.
"They are a team that is going really well, and we respect them for that‚" said Read.
Hansen stressed that there were valuable lessons to be learnt for both sides from the Loftus encounter.
For his team it is reinforcing certain objectives‚ while for the Springboks‚ it is about developing more ruthless habits.
"What this will do is for young players … [is] understanding [that you] don’t stop believing," the Kiwi head coach said.
"For the South Africans it will be don’t stop playing and don’t give an inch. Both teams will get plenty out of it.
"It is just how it happens. They are building a good side and we are trying one too‚" said the All Blacks coach.