Springboks coach Allister Coetzee believes he has come through the toughest period of his career after a miserable 2016 that almost saw him lose his job.
Coetzee’s role in charge of South Africa looked under serious threat after just four wins in 2016, and a disappointing Rugby Championship that saw them lose to Argentina.
It has been a different story in 2017, though, as Coetzee has revived the flailing Boks with five wins and a draw from their six matches, a run that has moved them into third place in the world rankings.
They face their biggest test of the year in Albany on Saturday, however, as they face the All Blacks for the first time since that drubbing in October, but Coetzee is pleased with how his side have reacted to a frustrating 12 months.
“It’s been bloody challenging,” Coetzee – who has made three changes to his side for this weekend’s clash – told a media conference.
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) September 14, 2017
“Coaching at international level, especially with the rugby-mad supporters that we have, managing the moods of millions of people is never an easy job, but it comes with the job.
“I’m just pleased that we have changed it in a way.
“We made a few tweaks at the beginning of the year and our time for preparation in 2017 was really good with the camps we had pre the French series.
“We spent time on our team environment, which is a massive thing because we were a team in transition.
“You can see how the players have started to enjoy the game. I’m also pleased to note that our players have never been in a better conditioning shape than they are now.
“I’m happy with where we are but we’re not there yet. We’ll test ourselves against the world’s best this weekend.”