Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says while he will not blame individuals for the team’s 21-11 loss to the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship match in New Zealand over the weekend, missed place-kicking cost them the match.
The Bok mentor was nevertheless positive about the team’s prospects for the future after they matched the world champions in all facets of play.
“We wanted to instil a belief in the team after the World Cup that they can beat any side in the world and I think we have achieved that goal,” Meyer said on the team's return to South Africa on Monday.
“Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome of the game because I thought we did enough to win it, but at the end of the day we didn’t.
“But there were a lot of positives we could take from the game.”
Meyer has come under severe public pressure regarding the team’s game plan and the coach’s loyalty to flyhalf Morné Steyn, who has been struggling with his form this year.
He, however, refused to lay the blame at the door of Steyn saying the team had to take responsibility for their performances.
Steyn missed four of his kicks at goal, centre Francois Steyn failed with two attempts while replacement flyhalf Johan Goosen missed one shot at goal.
“I will never blame an individual,” he said.
“If the team loses, it is always my fault, but I think we played the right game plan and put the All Blacks under pressure.
“Even they were surprised at how we kept them under pressure.”
Meyer added that squandered opportunities had cost the team dearly and the team as a whole needed to do introspection in the week before they assemble again on Sunday.
“I think if one looks at the context of the game it was 5-3 at half-time and it would have been close to 15-5, which is a totally new game,” said Meyer.
“They would have had to chase hard and you can build pressure from there.”
He admitted that there was a drop in Steyn’s form but he was confident that the Bulls pivot would soon be back to his best.
“In general Morné did not play bad but according to his standards his kicking at goal wasn’t good, the same goes for Frans (Steyn),” he said.
"Morné is mentally tough, he’s been there a few times... Bryan was there and with the right guidance he’s playing great rugby.
"I’ve always - without boosting myself - been great with getting the best out of players.
"I think this mental break will do him well, but we will look at the whole situation and decide who’s the guys that will play in the next Test."
Meyer praised the performance of his inexperienced forward pack, who threw down the gauntlet against their more experienced All Black counterparts.
“We scrummed well I am very happy with the front row and if you look at the amount of loose forwards, which are out at the moment,” Meyer said.
“The combination of those guys were great as it was the first time they’ve played together and they were superb against probably the best loose trio in the world.”