Siya Kolisi of South Africa retrieves the ball against Australia. AAP/Tony McDonough/via REUTERS
Siya Kolisi of South Africa retrieves the ball against Australia. AAP/Tony McDonough/via REUTERS

The Springboks believe they will use the experience of their massive defeat against the All Blacks positively for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Australia.

It’s a match that now looms as a contest that could save the campaign from being a total failure.

If the Boks win it would guarantee them second place with their final fixture against the All Blacks to follow.

Mathematically the Boks still have a chance to win the title‚ although that is almost impossible given that the All Blacks only need two points from their final two matches to secure a 15th title.

However‚ second would represent statistical progress for the Boks after a dismal 2016‚ although genuine progress can only really be measured on the gap to the world’s best and after losing 57-0 to the All Blacks in Albany two weeks ago‚ progress in a relative concept.

Beating one of the poorest Wallaby teams in two decades‚ on the highveld‚ should be a foregone conclusion. But nothing can be guaranteed anymore.

Backline and attack coach Franco Smith though‚ refused to dwell on any negatives from the Boks’ recent showing‚ preferring to rather focus on how the team responds to the Albany agony.

“Experience is not what you know‚ it’s what you do with what you know‚” Smith said.

“And the only way to gain experience is through experiencing up and downs.

“Before playing against NZ we were on a roll‚ had played six games without defeat‚ we played some good rugby with a strong team culture that carried us.

“The culture hasn’t changed‚ but under pressure‚ with high expectations [against NZ] it maybe got to some of the young players.

“A third of the team had never faced the Haka before‚ and having faced it myself‚ it is quite intimidating.

“It’s something that most rugby players want to do – to play against the All Blacks and try and beat them in New Zealand.

“Now we have gained that experience some of the wide-eyed nervousness will be gone.

“The hunger in training is there and us coaches had to hold the players back because they were so keen. It’s easy to motivate players and they can’t wait to get out there.

“Australia suffered in their first Test against the All Blacks and came back. They went back to their points of reference‚ which is something we can learn from.”

Smith pointed to better protection of possession as one of the keys to success this weekend. He didn’t dwell on the set piece‚ which crumbled against the All Blacks‚ but it’s obvious that scrums and lineouts cannot be so poor again.

“I believe the next World Cup will be won by the team whose general attack is developed best because 90 % of the game consists of being able to play from anywhere‚” Smith said.

“We have been working hard to change that mindset but it will take a little time. That is not a luxury you generally have at Test level.

“We need to get our general shape back as quickly as possible and make transfers count. Sides with the ball have the best chance to score a try. We are already playing in the right areas and on the right side of the field‚ but we have to look after our possession.

“It’s about how we get over the line – carrying‚ ball protection and width of pods – every side develops their own shape.

“Up until the All Black game it worked well‚ so we have to look after the ball and this weekend we need to make sure we get back on our feet quickly.” — TimesLIVE


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