Boks need to improve 40% - Jean
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers believes the Boks need at least a “40% improvement” if they are to win in Perth and keep their Castle Rugby Championship campaign on track.
The team leaves on Saturday night to face Australia, who are desperate after back-to-back losses to the All Blacks, and are themselves under pressure after a sub-standard performance in drawing with Argentina in Mendoza last week.
Despite the performance, which has been widely criticised and showed how much work still awaits this young Springbok team, the Boks are confident they can rectify the wrongs in a week and De Villiers was adamant that there are areas that weren’t bad in Mendoza, and that it is simply a case of implementing the game plan properly.
“It’s difficult to put a percentage on it. I think our discipline needs to improve. I think our execution needs to improve. Our set phases we took a step back – the lineouts were not as effective as in Cape Town. Kick receipts were really good,” De Villiers said.
“I’d say we need to improve by about 40%. I’d say last weekend we’re on 50-60% of where we want to be. The margins in test level are very small. One kick out of the four or five we missed – if it had gone over – it may not have been such a crisis, not that we believe it is a crisis. Those are the small details that can make a difference in a test match.”
There is really a sense that this team is still very much a work in progress, and while injuries have not helped their cause much, the Boks will be looking for a much improved performance in Perth. At least there is nobody in the team that has pronounced themselves satisfied with the Mendoza performance.
Still, with the Aussies under the kosh, and Robbie Deans’s job on the line, the Boks are likely to encounter a very dangerous wounded Wallaby side. The Boks, however, will also be wounded, and De Villiers reminded all of that and reiterated how they needed to use the game as an opportunity to put in a better performance for their fans.
“We’re in a very similar situation. We’re also under pressure, even though we haven’t lost a game. It’s all about expectations and where you want to go,” De Villiers said.
“I think if we were only a mediocre team and happy with average performances then there won’t be any pressure. That’s not the case, we believe we’re a better team and I suppose Australia believe the same. There is pressure and there is an opportunity for players to put up their hands and be counted. Nothing great has ever been achieved in perfect circumstances. We believe this is the opportunity for us to step it up as a team and hopefully put up a better performance.
“We need to learn from our experiences, we are learning and we are growing as a team. But you can’t be making the same mistakes every week. I believe it was already a step in the right direction on Saturday, we’ve improved from the Cape Town test, and as you can see we worked on it again today. Its just getting that attention to detail. By Saturday next week we will know if we’ve made the step up.”
The Boks will link up with Francois Louw in Perth as he will play for Bath this weekend, while the only real injury worry is Adriaan Strauss, who picked up a knee injury in Mendoza. Strauss is expected to be fit next week and will resume training with the team in Perth.