Johannesburg - Captain Jean de Villiers says the Springboks need to learn from their mistakes as they prepare for the Australasia leg of their Rugby Championship campaign.
The Boks drew 16-16 against newcomers Argentina in Mendoza last week, after securing a 27-6 victory in Cape Town in their opener against the Pumas, and De Villiers said on Thursday they needed to improve markedly for their next game against Australia.
“We need to learn from our experiences, and we're growing as a team, but you can't keep making the same mistakes,” De Villiers said after the squad's training session at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
“By Saturday next week we will know if we've stepped up or not.
“We're building as a team. Our discipline needs to improve, our execution, and our set-phases have taken a step backward.
“We maybe need to improve 40 percent but the margins are very small in Test rugby.”
The Boks received plenty of criticism after they failed to pull off a win against the Pumas in Mendoza but De Villiers believed there were positives they could take from the match.
“We've put that game behind us. Looking at the game again I feel better about it," the skipper said.
"There were actually a lot of positives from the game.
“We believe we were a better team than how we played on Saturday.
“Even though there has been a lot of criticism of our attacking play, I thought that was actually quite good. The attack was quite good at times.”
De Villiers said some of the criticism was justified, however, and his side needed to react accordingly.
“Once you don't live up to expectations, you will be criticised," he said.
“It's about the way you handle it. We have to be honest with each other and take it on the chin and believe in what we're doing.
“You can't take everyone's opinion to heart.”
The players were behind new coach Heyneke Meyer, according to De Villiers, and they had accepted his approach.
“It's a new coach trying to get a message and gameplan across to the team," the skipper said.
"We will all stand up for what we believe in. We believe in the coach and what we're doing is right.”
The training session, open to the public, was a new experience for De Villiers, who said he had never been to the stadium in the historic township.
“It's a fantastic experience. It's my first time here," he said.
"It's important to take the game to the people and the fans. Without the support there won't be a Springbok team.
“We actually had to move the training to the other side of the field at one stage because the fans were so noisy we couldn't hear the calls.”
Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Johan Goosen, Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak
Willem Alberts, Andries Bekker, Craig Burden, Pat Cilliers, Marcell Coetzee, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Dean Greyling, Juandre Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Francois Louw, Tendai Mtawarira, Jacques Potgieter, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen