Rugby World Cup 2011
Smit: Boks not there yet
John Smit (Gallo Images)
Wellington - Even though his team delivered one of their best performances in recent times, Springbok skipper John Smit would not accept that his team’s 49-3 victory over Fiji was a breakthrough.
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"It is a better performance, I don’t know a about breakthrough," Smit said after Saturday’s match.
"I think it was a game that we really wanted to do well in. They are one of the tough teams in the pool and showed that they wanted to attack, so I would rather say it was a step in the right direction."
It took the Springboks 25 minutes to get the upper-hand in the contest.
The turning point came when loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp dived over in the corner for the first of six tries the defending champions scored in the match.
Smit praised his players for surviving the initial pressure they were placed under by a very passionate Fijian outfit.
"The first half was pretty brutal, they basically came out there on a mission, certainly from a breakdown point of view.
"Fortunately the boys stuck to it and it was good to see how the guys matched fire with fire and were pretty accurate; numbers wise, the decision making was good and it was a step in the right direction."
Asked to compare his team’s showing to this week to the narrow 17-16 victory they secured over Wales in their previous match, the Bok skipper said that the control his men had - with or without possession - was one of the most telling differences.
He said that they would not have scored high marks for their previous performance.
"The nice thing about this week, compared to last week, is that we got closer to how we prepared the week before the game.
"It is a good stepping stone to where we needed to go and to improve from last week. A lot of guys put some valuable time out there and some guys really put their hands up."
Prior to the match the Springboks were only given an outside chance to retain the title they won in 2007.
The victory had brought back a lot of confidence in the team’s abilities although Smit said that proving their critics wrong was not the main motivating factor behind the more credible performance.
"If it was perceived that way it may help, but the intention was to get better every single weekend.
"We were aware that we came into the tournament pretty undercooked from a rugby game time point of view so it was important for us to progress today.
"Week two is a little bit too early to be deciding who is making a marker, it is not really when you win a World Cup."
The Springboks’ next match is against Namibia at the North Harbour stadium in Auckland on Thursday.