Springboks assistant coach Matt Proudfoot has leapt to the defence of beleaguered coach Rassie Erasmus and insisted that they do not fear the axe.
Erasmus has come under intense pressure after successive defeats to Argentina and Australia in the Rugby Championship and the coach himself conceded on Monday that his job would be on the line if the Boks suffer a humiliating defeat to New Zealand on Saturday.
The Boks are no longer in the running to win the tournament but a defiant Proudfoot said they would continue to building a strong and transformed squad for next year's World Cup even if it means losing their jobs.
“Rassie’s planning is spot on‚” Proudfoot said on Tuesday.
"We realise as coaches and management‚ and this is driven by Rassie himself‚ that we may be fired for individual losses even against our biggest foes.
"Then so be it.
“We have started the process to develop a South African team that represents a united nation and this is what this is about.
"If he (Erasmus) is to be fired as the head coach or director of rugby‚ so be it.
"We are prepared to serve this team according to what South African rugby stands for.”
Proudfoot‚ who was also part of the ill-fated reign of Allister Coetzee‚ said they are all behind Erasmus.
“We are all aligned as the management behind him (Erasmus)‚" Proudfoot said.
"I have worked in management teams of various coaches and what has impressed me about Rassie is his honesty‚ his management style and the philosophy he believes in.
"There has been a buy-in from everybody and if I was not aligned to the plan‚ I would not be here.
"We are confident about the plan.
“We continuously strive to make this group better.
"The squad has been brought together in its composition to build a team that will be competitive at the World Cup (next year).
"That’s why when we went to Argentina we put young guys in place to get caps to make sure that they are ready for the challenge of the World Cup.
"We have got massive challenges along the way and winning games is one of them‚ but making sure that players improve week to week is our biggest task.
"That is what we are as coaches and management and if we get results along the way‚ we are going to enjoy it.”