Springboks must sharpen their focus, says Rassie Erasmus
Springbok coach turns his gaze to the semi-final battle ahead against Wales
Tokyo — The Springboks must learn to concentrate for 80 minutes if they are going to win the Rugby World Cup‚ coach Rassie Erasmus admits after his team’s quarterfinal win over Japan.
Though the Boks’ brutal‚ forwards-based battle plan clicked into gear in the second half‚ to earn them a 26-3 win over the host nation‚ there are areas in which they must improve.
The Boks play Wales in the semifinal in Yokohama on Sunday in a repeat of the quarterfinal battle they had with the same team at the 2015 tournament.
When Erasmus spoke about maintaining focus he was referring to the two tries they let in‚ in the space of four minutes against the All Blacks in their competition opener. In that match they also failed to convert all their opportunities‚ a trend that continued in their victory over Japan on Sunday.
“We must find those pressure points‚” said Erasmus. “We must use our chances. We must be consistent. That is the biggest work-on for us. We have the pack and we have backline players.
“If you have four of five minutes where you drop your concentration you get found out. It happened again against Japan. There is no specific department that we have to work on. We must learn to concentrate for a full 80 minutes if we are going to win the Rugby World Cup.”
He was unimpressed with his team’s lack of composure when they had Japan on the ropes in the first half.
“We weren’t great. We were there five times in the first half and five times we stuffed it up. That is something we spoke about at length at halftime. You have to be like burglars in those situations. When you get into the 22 you must leave with something. We were really poor in that.
“We were actually quite good at that against top teams earlier and it is something we will have to work on.”
Erasmus said he was looking forward to battling Wales with whom he has crossed paths twice since becoming Bok coach in 2018. The Boks lost their first match under Erasmus against Wales in Washington in 2018 when the coach rested his top players. Later in the year they lost in Cardiff‚ also without some of their top players.
Sunday’s Test will be a better reflection of where the Boks are at.
“I haven’t coached against them with our best team‚” said the coach. They have created depth. A year or so ago they took their B-team to Argentina and whitewashed the hosts. It is a big challenge for us‚” said Erasmus who will be only too familiar with some of the Wales players given the time he spent in the Pro 14 at Munster.