Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus sees SA as underdogs
The Springboks arrive in Wellington on Monday with their backs against the wall, well aware that they have to produce something special if they are to get the better of the All Blacks in New Zealand on Saturday.
There is no denying that coach Rassie Erasmus’s charges are desperate for a win after successive defeats to Argentina and Australia in the Rugby Championship.
Faf de Klerk maintained a brave face after the defeat to Australia on Saturday and insisted that the All Blacks – who have only lost one Test at home since 2009 – are beatable.
“They are definitely beatable, but it is going to be tough, especially playing away from home,” he said.
“No matter who comes in for them, they are a great team and the next guy is good, but we want to beat them and make the country proud.
‘‘Hopefully, we can go out and do that.
“They have weak points and Australia exposed them in their recent two matches.”
In the defeat to Australia, the Boks recovered from 7-0 down inside the first three minutes to lead the match at half time by a point.
De Klerk said they would use the coming days to correct mistakes and take the fight to New Zealand on Saturday.
“Definitely, we can turn things around. A week is a long time,” he said.
‘‘I think the guys played well and those who made mistakes know what they did wrong.
‘‘I also know what I did wrong and it is just a matter of working hard during the week and [improving] our performance at the weekend.”
De Klerk said they would have to be physical and keep the ball going to avoid unnecessary knock-ons if they were to beat world rugby’s best national side.
“We need to respect the ball a bit more and we need to keep it,” he said.
‘‘When we have turnovers, we need to take control – those are some of the elements that we must work on.
‘‘Once we slow down and there are knock-ons, that is not good.
‘‘If we can work on correcting our mistakes and become physical, we stand a chance.
“I think we had a good first half [against Australia],” he said, looking back to Saturday’s 23-18 defeat to the Wallabies.
‘‘In the past, we have struggled with that and it was good that we rectified it.
‘‘Overall in the game we were in control, but we had a few handling errors or conceded a stupid penalty – [that] is unacceptable at this level.
‘‘Hopefully, we will rectify those mistakes.
‘‘We have another chance to improve but this loss [to Australia] is difficult for us.”
Erasmus said: “New Zealand are the best in the world, yes it is daunting and they smash everybody, but we are underdogs.
‘‘But I want us to get better and I felt that at stages in this game we were not better.
‘‘It is easier to go and play the All Blacks, not because they are an easy team, but as underdogs, because people don’t give us a chance.
‘‘I really believe that this team has the potential but maybe not the experience in crunch matches.
‘‘We will keep our mouths shut and prepare for them.”