Port Elizabeth - Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says he had kept faith in his players despite a difficult start to the Rugby Championship.
ALSO READ: Pollard at No 12 for PE Test?
The Boks beat Argentina 34-21 in Durban in their first game, before losing 32-19 in Mendoza the following week.
A 23-18 loss to Australia in Brisbane was a hammer blow ahead of the Test against New Zealand in Wellington, but the Boks surprised friend and foe when they upset the All Blacks 36-34.
Stick addressed reporters in Port Elizabeth on Monday where the Boks were preparing for this weekend’s return clash against the Wallabies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“I was one of the coaches in this setup who never stopped believing in these players because if you look at the games we’ve lost - against Argentina and Australia - it was only because we didn’t take our opportunities and converted them into points,” he said.
The difference in the win over New Zealand was making use of those opportunities, Stick added.
“We’ve created a lot of opportunities which is good for a coach to see. They’re not scared to play but when it comes to Test match level you have to convert them (opportunities) into points. If you look at the game against the All Blacks... from Nos 1 to 23... the players were up for that game, especially the tempo and the speed of the game where the guys were up there until the last minute of the game.”
Stick said playmakers like halfbacks Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard and fullback Willie le Roux played significant roles in the demise of the All Blacks.
“Against the All Blacks we created a lot of opportunities and converted them into points... and once again, having experienced players being on top of their game... guys like Faf, Willie, Handre Pollard as one of our playmakers and decision makers on the field... if you get those guys to be at their best on the day then you’ve got a better chance to win against any other side in the world. I’ve always believed we’ve got what it takes.
“The playmakers made the right decisions on the field. They made sure they stayed in the game for 80 minutes. If you’re not switched on for 80 minutes against the All Blacks they’ll punish you.”
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus will name his team on Thursday.