Deans: Boks 'getting there'
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Durban - The Springboks remain realistic contenders for the World Cup, says Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
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New Zealander Deans told Sport24 at the press conference after his team’s 14-9 Castle Tri-Nations victory at Mr Price Kings Park here - their second triumph in three weeks over the RWC champions - that the Boks could not be discounted.
“Absolutely,” he replied when asked whether the Tri-Nations wooden-spoonists could yet be a force at this year’s global event.
“The Boks will get better and better ... they know what it takes to win the World Cup.
“The resilience we showed today was (gratifying). We stuck at it. We were good around the contact; we fronted up physically.”
Australian captain Rocky Elsom - seldom a ball of fire at media opportunities - pointed to his team’s “work ethic” as a key determinant of the outcome against a reawakening Bok side.
Deans’s counterpart Peter de Villiers, meanwhile, rued the Springboks not cashing in properly on a dominant start to the match.
“We wanted a good start and we got it, but we didn’t convert all our efforts into points. (Later) it was difficult to play catch-up with the state we were in. Some guys hadn’t played rugby for seven weeks or two months.
“But it’s a good start. There are positives to take out of it. We controlled the first half and looked really good. We can build from there.”
On the 25th-minute “try” by Jaque Fourie, disallowed after television referral, De Villiers said: “You get those things that go against you. Those you can’t control, it’s part of the game. We’ll bounce back ... we lost this game on the scoreboard only.”
He also took heart from the 50-minute showing of fit-again open-side flank Heinrich Brüssow.
“After 21 months out of Test rugby, what a revelation Heinrich was in the time he was on the field. We hope we can give us a good 80 (minutes) as quickly as possible.”
Captain John Smit, who faced an anxious wait to establish the extent of his arm injury late in the game, was philosophical about the losing end to his top-flight career at his hometown venue.
“I figured out a while back there are no fairytales. But it’s been good to me, Kings Park ... 14 years. Certainly I’ve been blessed to play for that long. (It’s) not the finish here I would have liked, but that’s not really the focal point; there are bigger (fish) to fry later.
“We made some progress; there’s lots to draw from it. It’s a horrible Test to lose because we felt like we had a lot of control but couldn’t convert it. It was frustrating.
“I was concerned going in at 6-0 (at halftime) after the kind of rugby we’d played and knowing the majority of the guys probably wouldn’t be firing fully come 70 minutes.
“But some guys got the full 80 minutes, the match hardness, and next week will be a different ball game.
“We must make sure we step it up against the All Blacks. We need a good result next weekend. We’ll work night and day to rectify (problem areas).”