South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander has come out in support of new coach Rassie Erasmus ahead of the Springboks encounter with the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Alexander has reminded fans of the All Blacks current dominance, dampening expectations for this Springbok side.
“The Springboks have never won at Westpac Stadium. It would require a history-making effort to get the win,” he told Keo.co.za.
“I know the belief within the squad is such that Saturday could be that glory evening but the making of Rassie Erasmus as the Springbok coach won’t be in a victory or defeat on Saturday evening.
He firmly believes in the plan Erasmus has for building the Springboks into a World Cup contender, understanding there will be ‘hiccups’ along the way.
“Rassie was appointed because of the detail in his plan to build a squad that could be realistic challengers at the World Cup.
“Rassie’s legacy as a coach will be balanced against what the Springboks can produce at the 2019 World Cup and we trust everything in his plan over the next year to get the Springboks into a position of strength and World Cup tournament contenders.”
“We knew there would be hiccups along the way. The World Cup remains the pinnacle in this plan,” he said.
The Springboks have lost two away matches in a row to Argentina in Mendoza and Australia in Brisbane, heaping pressure on Erasmus who took over the Springboks from embattled coach Allister Coetzee in February.
After a promising start over England in June, Erasmus shocked the media by stating that he could be out of a job if the Springboks lost to the All Blacks.
“If we do really bad here [against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday], then I will probably not be in the seat for the next couple of matches and somebody else will probably be there,” he said.
That sentiment hasn’t been reflected by president Alexander, who has called for some perspective.
“There has to be perspective.
“We won a series against a very good England squad. We scored six tries against the Pumas in South Africa and the team created enough opportunities to beat the Wallabies in Brisbane. Mendoza was a disappointment for everyone but the performance in Brisbane was vastly improved.”
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