Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus lauded a number of players for their individual performances in a 35-17 win over Australia in Johannesburg but said his team will have to improve as they build towards the World Cup.
The Boks scored five tries to two in the Rugby Championship opener, with debut-making scrum-half Herschel Jantjies grabbing two on debut as South Africa recorded a bonus point win at Ellis Park. Lood de Jager, Sbu Nkosi and Cobus Reinach also scored tries, while Elton Jantjies converted all five tries.
“A few guys certainly put their hands up for World Cup selection and although there was some rustiness and all our combinations weren’t settled, we are still happy with the win,” said Erasmus.
“At times we were frustrated with how things went, and we were also lucky as they had a try disallowed for a forward pass and lost the ball over the line.
“The same happened in some Tests last year – some you win, some you lose. We’ll take it and say ‘thanks’, but we’re under no illusions that this was far from a world-class performance. The biggest positive from the Test was probably individual performances.
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“From a team performance perspective, this isn’t how we want to play, quality-wise, and we’re aware of that. They had our number in the air and we’ll have to look at that, there are a lot of areas we can improve on.”
Erasmus lauded the performances of Herschel Jantjies and Reinach, as well as Frans Steyn, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marcell Coetzee and Francois Louw, all of whom (bar Jantjies) joined the squad from overseas and slotted in with ease.
“Herschel showed that he is comfortable at this level if you consider that he only really made his mark at Super Rugby level this year,” said Erasmus. “Cobus also did very well when he came on. But things can change quickly with injuries and loss of form, so it’s good to have depth.
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“Last year Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl did very well at stages, while we also have Faf (de Klerk) and Louis Schreuder, so it’s good to have all these options available. Now we have to consolidate and make sure we get the right No9s to the World Cup.”
Erasmus, three of his assistant coaches and a group of players went straight from the stadium to the airport to fly to New Zealand where they will join 13 players and some members of management who left on Thursday.
“We will fly a few more players and management over on Sunday and perhaps some more players on Monday so that we’ll have a squad of around 34 in New Zealand,” he explained.
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“We are not returning to South Africa after the Test in Wellington and will remain in New Zealand for a camp before we go straight to Argentina to face the Pumas. But before that, we need to shift our focus to the All Blacks. They also lost some players at home and will be fresh and ready for us.
“It was difficult to select this team as we didn’t want to show any disrespect to Australia, but next weekend we are playing the top side in the world, so we amended our travel plans as we would like to be as fresh as possible over there, otherwise we won’t stand a chance.
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“This is a massively important match – the last three Tests between us and them have been very close and could have gone either way, but they are playing at home and will be ready for us.
“I will properly analyse this match against Australia on the plane and when we get to New Zealand, we will look at what our needs are in terms of which players will have to join us over there. We’ll start our preparations in all earnest on Monday.”
WATCH: Episode three of the RugbyPass Rugby Explorer series where Jim Hamilton takes a trek through South African rugby
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