‘Something special brewing at Boks'
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer predicted that there is “something special” brewing in the current Bok team, and said they could only get better given the injuries and setbacks the team has had so far.
While making no excuses for Morne Steyn’s poor kicking against New Zealand, Meyer said on arrival back in South Africa that he had seen this team change on tour – where they had played three tests away from home in the last month, and was impressed with how the forward pack had stood up against World Champions New Zealand.
The Bok mentor said despite the poor kicking performance, there were many positives to take out of the game, and it filled him with confidence ahead of the home games.
While not discussing individuals, Meyer did hint that there were changes coming for the home tests, although those aren’t likely to be among the forwards, who dominated the All Blacks in Dunedin.
The Bok coach explained he had seen a real change in self-confidence from the Dunedin game, and believed this would hold the Boks in good stead when Australia and New Zealand come to South Africa in a few weeks' time for the return fixtures.
“After we took the team over after the Rugby World Cup, we felt that we wanted to instill a confidence in this team that they could beat any team anywhere in the world, and I think we have achieved that goal,” Meyer said on arrival back. “I was disappointed with the outcome of the game and I thought we did enough to win the game. At the end of the day we didn’t win, but there are a lot of positives out of the game that we can take. I was very happy with the forwards.”
“The guys know they could have won that game. You don’t beat New Zealand that easily in New Zealand and we didn’t use the opportunity we were given. I think we have the guys and I think there is something special coming. We are on the right track and we need to stay focused. We need to work on the process.”
Meyer continued to explain that the squad believed they not only could have won both games, but should have won them. With an expected change at goalkicker looming, there was much that looked positive.
“We are the only team that has played three away games on the trot and if you look at the other games, it was tight. The great thing for me was that in both games, we were still in the game in the last 10 minutes. Saying that, a home crowd and home advantage won’t do the job for you -- you still have to do it. I could see there is a lot of belief and self-belief in this team, you could see it in the last two games. It wasn’t a sense that they were happy with the performance because we came so close. They were very unhappy with the results. A lot of the players said when talking about the three previous wins out of 22 -- when looking at those games, sometimes they played worse rugby but won. The difference was the kicking.
“We took a lot of self-confidence out of this game, obviously we’re disappointed and also for the public, because we did enough to win this game. I’m really looking forward to the home games.
Despite Steyn’s poor kicking performance, and the player must be at an all-time low at the moment, Meyer said that apart from Dan Carter, New Zealand couldn’t get much stronger, while the Boks could still add several players who were injured, such as Coenie Oosthuizen, JP Pietersen and others to strengthen their squad.
“I don’t want to knock individuals. I think we did enough to win the game. If you look at the last time we won in New Zealand, Frans Steyn put over two long-range kicks -- that was the difference. It isn’t that we had to do more, we just had to kick our goals and that is frustrating. We have high standards and as a team we have improved a lot. I think we can only get better, while New Zealand, apart from Dan Carter, that was their strongest team. I’m very positive going ahead,” Meyer explained.
The Boks will face Australia on September 29 at Loftus Versfeld and New Zealand a week later at Soccer City.