'Boks must take another step up'
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers believes his team will have to play significantly better if they are to claim a second win on tour and beat the World champion All Blacks in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship match at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
De Villiers and his fellow Boks arrived in the New Zealand city late on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by a Cape minstrel choir who serenaded their arrival at the airport for the important game.
And while Saturday's game will pit the top two sides in world rugby against each other, De Villiers knows that in 2012 there was a significant difference in class between his side and the All Blacks and it is up to the Boks to rectify that.
They have made up a lot of ground and currently sit on nine consecutive wins, racking up their first victories at Soccer City, Mendoza and Suncorp Stadium along the way, but while they created an exceptional benchmark in Brisbane, they will have to be better in Auckland.
One reason is that the All Blacks rarely lose at home, while the weather will not be as kind in Auckland as it was in Brisbane. Summer temperatures in Brisbane will make way for cold and wet days in Auckland, with heavy underfoot and tougher conditions to play an expansive game in.
De Villiers also underlined that the Boks didn't consider their tour a success just because of their win in Brisbane.
They want to be measured against the best in the world and only a victory in Auckland will satisfy their hunger.
“There are still a number of facets to our game which are not good enough at the moment. New Zealand are the best side in the world, and we know that,” De Villiers said.
“We will need to lift ourselves and we know there is no way about it, it will be tough for us.
“We will need to be at our best if we want to win.”
De Villiers did add that the victory in Brisbane had done wonders for the self-belief in the squad, and the team certainly hadn’t written off their own chances in Auckland.
“For us as a group to be the first to win in Brisbane is amazing. It shows that if you prepare well and you believe then anything is possible. Hopefully we can repeat that preparation and belief this coming weekend.”
De Villiers added that the team had grown significantly this year.
“For a team to go forward and evolve you need to learn from your mistakes. We have shown we have learnt in Mendoza in the way we reacted in a similar situation. Last year in Perth we were up by 10 points in the second half and then the Wallabies came back and beat us by seven. We were in the same situation today (on Saturday) and we were able to capitalise on our opportunities.
“The composure was there and the guys did what was needed. It is still not the perfect performance by quite a long shot I believe, but I believe we used our opportunities a lot and we were able to score four tries, so luckily the ball stuck tonight.”
He also praised his pack of forwards for their performance in dominating their opposition in Brisbane.
“You need to lay the platform with the forwards and certainly our forwards did that. Our scrummaging is immense at the moment, not only the starting three but the three coming on as well. I think we are really strong at the moment and the new laws are really suiting us.
“From a defensive point of view, a lot has been said of our loose forwards and how they might lack pace but what they brought to the party was just fantastic and I love having them in my team.”
Monday will see another light session for the Boks before the hard on-field work begins again on Tuesday.