Springbok coach Allister Coetzee admitted he was hurting after a humiliating 57-15 mauling at home by New Zealand in the teams’ final Rugby Championship fixture at Durban’s Kings Park on Saturday.
“I am hurting and I know what pain feels like. I have been in similar situations before,” he said following a record defeat in 93 tests against their greatest rivals.
“This group will have to turn things around. Seeing our supporters leaving the stands before the final whistle was not a pleasant sight,” the coach said.
“There will be no excuses from us — the All Blacks are a world-class team and we are not at the same level yet.”
Coetzee became the second black coach of the Springboks last April after Heyneke Meyer changed his mind about seeking a second four-year contract.
Although he guided South Africa to third place at the World Cup in England last year, Meyer was widely criticised at home by the public and media for pre-historic tactics and failing to give black stars a chance.
“We gave our best, but sometimes your best is still not good enough,” Coetzee admitted after a test in which his team conceded seven second-half tries – having trailed only 12-9 at half time.
“That was the case in Durban tonight. The players and coaches worked hard this week, but we have to take a hard look at ourselves. We are the only ones who can turn this around.
“There are not many players out there who can really strengthen our squad,” the coach insisted.
He has lost five of nine matches in charge, including two at home.
“We have to look at a number of areas, including our kicking game and our aerial skills.
“As a country, we lack certain skills and that is something we all need to work on,” the coach said.
Next month, the Boks face the Barbarians in London, England, Italy and Wales during an end-of-season tour.
“We are under constant pressure to win tests. We are between a rock and a hard place,” Coetzee said.
“We need to blood players at the beginning of a new four-year cycle, but we cannot experiment too much. We are embarrassed, but we need to stand up and show we have fight left in us.”
Bok skipper and hooker, Adriaan Strauss, playing at home for the final time ahead of his retirement from tests after the tour to Europe, remained hopeful despite the nine-try mauling.
“We have the talent and I am positive about the future,” he insisted.
“Tonight we were nowhere. We need to bounce back and show some resilience and character — the talent is there to do that.”
New Zealand had clinched the title after the fourth round of matches.