Springbok coach Jake White hardly looked perturbed when he addressed the media after watching his team crushed by the All Blacks.
White was full of smiles and clever chirps as he neatly sidestepped potentially damning questions with his sharp wit. While he should have looked a worried man, White seems absolutely fine after seeing his team lose its fifth Test in-a-row.
Perhaps he is just in denial, but if the Boks lose the next two Tests, it will equal the worst losing streak in the history of South African Test rugby. Bok coaches have been fired for a lot less.
Instead of focussing on any of the worrying aspects that were glaringly obvious today, White instead chose to heap praise on the All Blacks.
“You can’t praise the All Blacks enough,” he said at the post-match press conference. “They are going for a record of wins and you can see they are playing with confidence. People say this is their B team, but a bunch of players came on and it made a huge difference.”
He continued: â€œCredit to the All Blacks regardless and they showed that when you make a mistake they will punish you. Our defence pattern has worked for us and we need to keep working at it. It is difficult to change that in a short period of time.â€
White did say he was unsatisfied with the result, but he hardly looked that way. “Obviously we are disappointed,” he said with barely any emotion. “The good thing for me is we started well, but we didn’t capitalise when we were 11-3 ahead. I really can’t say what went wrong.”
But then he added: “We kicked well in the first 20 minutes and then we started to kick poorly and that was probably what cost us.” White also brought up the continued absence of Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha as reasons for the defeat.
“They are very important to our defensive pattern and we missed them today,” he said. “There were times at the end of the game that we were better than at the beginning of the game so I think we gave it our all throughout.”
The one area White seemed most upset about was that the three players who made their debuts â€“ BJ Botha, Ruan Pienaar and Chiliboy Ralepelle â€“ would not remember the match for the right reasons.
â€œIâ€™m sad we couldn’t give the debutants a match to remember for the right reasons, but I have faith in the group of players I have. I will continue to have faith.â€
So, no changes for next weekendâ€™s Test in Rustenburg it seems.
By Andrew Hollely, at Loftus Versfeld