‘When the media and fans get negative we see it as one hell of a positive‚’ says Bok coach Erasmus
If the Springboks want to prove they are not “flash in the pan” one-hit wonders they must overcome a formidable Wallaby side in a Rugby Championship clash in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Boks have breathed hot and cold this season‚ and consistency is paramount if they want to be contenders at next year’s World Cup in Japan.
A sellout 46‚000 crowd will be behind the Boks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as they bid to build on their stunning win over the All Blacks in their last outing.
It was a super-human effort‚ and Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has called on his players to maintain the ferocious intensity they showed in Wellington.
“If this team can grow from our last game we should get the result against Australia‚” Erasmus said.
“If we take a step backwards then it is going to be tough and a close game‚ or even a losing game.
“So we have to grow every single week to get the result that we are striving for.
“It is great that we will be playing in front of sold out stadium here in Port Elizabeth and then against the All Blacks in Pretoria the following weekend.
“In our team meetings we say when the media and the fans get negative we have to see it as a hell of a positive. I have coached in countries where you just do not get that pressure or feeling of people getting disappointed.
“I think you are in trouble when people stop being disappointed when you are not doing well.
“It is because people care. You can see by getting one result‚ we are selling out stadiums.
“We are privileged to play in a country where people get upset when you lose. They do not just forget about you and they still want you to win.
“Now it is a hell of a responsibility for us to perform and repay them.”
The coach is demanding his men keep their feet firmly on the ground after beating New Zealand.
“We do not want the guys to fly too high and think they are this world team that can beat anyone because we beat the All Blacks in our last game‚” Erasmus said.
“The players must be right because we are playing a difficult Australian team. Keeping up that intensity is always a challenge.”
Diminutive scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has urged the Boks to be cut-throat in the red zone and not to squander opportunities as they did earlier in the season against Argentina and Australia.
“In our earlier games‚ which we lost against Australia and Argentina‚ we were creating opportunities‚ but not converting them into points‚” the scrumhalf said.
“That is partly due to experience and partly because of guys losing focus or not always having the right plan when it comes to converting points.
“We have spoken a lot about it. Every week we speak about our opportunities and how many we had.
“How many opportunities we had against Argentina was unheard of. But we did not convert them. Then‚ against Australia‚ there were so many tries we could have scored that we did not.
“The Boks must get used to being cut-throat when we have opportunities. If you get 10 chances and you finish seven that is great. But our conversion rate is not good.
“I think the main thing for us‚ is that we have our own team goals. Yes‚ it was a great win in Wellington for SA rugby‚ but we are not going to get carried away.
“There is room for improvement in the squad. We are looking at the bigger picture and building up to the World Cup‚” De Klerk said.
Stormers No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe has a golden chance to lay down a marker in Test rugby when he makes his run-on debut for the Boks.
Notshe gets his opportunity to shine because regular No.8 Warren Whitely has been ruled out by a groin strain.
The inclusion of Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing and Notshe in the pack are two of four changes to the Bok starting team that beat the All Blacks two weeks ago in Wellington‚ New Zealand.
Jesse Kriel‚ who started at right wing in Wellington‚ moves back to outside centre.
Kriel is set to partner the strong-running Andre Esterhuizen in a revamped Springbok midfield as a result of the injuries to Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
In the pack there is a rotation at loosehead prop between Tendai Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff‚ who will provide vital impact off the bench.
(Nos 15 to 1):
Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe‚ Jesse Kriel‚ André Esterhuizen‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handré Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk; Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Siya Kolisi (capt)‚ Franco Mostert‚ Eben Etzebeth‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Tendai Mtawarira
Bongi Mbonambi‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Wilco Louw‚ RG Snyman‚ Marco van Staden‚ Embrose Papier‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Damian Willemse
(Nos 15 to 1):
Dane Haylett-Petty; Israel Folau‚ Reece Hodge‚ Matt Toomua‚ Marika Koroibete; Kurtley Beale‚ Will Genia; David Pocock‚ Michael Hooper (capt)‚ Ned Hanigan; Izack Rodda‚ Adam Coleman; Taniela Tupou‚ Tatafu Polota-Nau‚ Scott Sio
Folau Faingaa‚ Sekope Kepu‚ Allan Alaalatoa‚ Rory Arnold‚ Rob Simmons‚ Nick Phipps‚ Bernard Foley‚ Jack Maddocks
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)