Boks to learn from mistakes

2014-12-01 16:02
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The South African rugby team's decision making in northern hemisphere conditions will receive serious attention in the build-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield said in Johannesburg on Monday .

"We are not happy about the tour.

"We have very high standards and this team hasn't lost two years in a row on the end of year tour," Matfield said at the team's arrival from the UK at OR Tambo International Airport.

"There have been a lot of guys not available for this tour, so we have to look at the positives with younger players coming through and the less experienced guys showing they can play at this level.

"If you add some of those hardened, experienced international players, then those players can go a long way."

The Springboks returned to South Africa following their worst performance in an outgoing series since the start of Heyneke Meyer's tenure as national coach in 2012.

The team suffered a comprehensive 29-15 defeat to Ireland in their first Test of the tour before narrowly losing 12-6 to Wales, in only their second defeat since 1906.

In between their two defeats, the Boks claimed a 22-6 victory over Italy after beating England 31-28 at Twickenham the week before.

Crucial mistakes proved costly, particularly against Wales where handling errors and poor kicking options relieved the pressure on the opposition.

"We are trying to expand our game but it comes down to decision making at crucial times and that is probably the biggest thing that we've learned on this tour," Matfield said.

"The conditions are a little bit different, so you have to look at your decision making and you have to get those guys in the right positions to make the right decisions.

"It is something we will look at and make sure those things are in place at next year's world cup."

To add insult to injury, South Africa's inspirational captain Jean de Villiers twisted his knee with 20 minutes left in the Welsh encounter and early scans revealed De Villiers had damaged his knee ligaments.

De Villiers landed in Cape Town early on Monday and had gone to see a specialist. A prognosis was expected later in the afternoon.

Matfield, who had captained the Springbok side during the June internationals, said it was too early to suggest he could take over the captain's armband at the World Cup.

"Let's wait and see what the specialist says. There are still about nine or 10 months left before the start of the world cup," he said.

"I know I would want to be back for the world cup. Jean is a fighter and will work hard to be ready and let's hope he will be ready."

Meanwhile, Matfield said Meyer was working with South African franchises to ensure the core of the squad was managed ahead of the global showpiece.

"I know Heyneke is speaking to the coaches and that is going to be very important with all the focus on the world cup. If we can sort out the core group of players that would be great," he said.

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