Springbok coach Jake White wore a smile after a Test match for the first time in months.
Speaking after watching Andre Pretorius kick the Boks to an unlikely, but throughly deserved win, White described it as “the biggest win since I became coach.”
The victory has given White a slight reprieve, but he is far from getting ahead of himself. “This is a tough job and I’ve known that all along. I always knew it was going to be difficult, but I also knew we would turn it around at some stage. And what better a way than against the best team in the world, who have not lost in 15 Tests.”
The Springboks do not want to let up and are targeting another win against the Wallabies at Ellis Park next weekend. “We really want another win and to end this campaign on a high note. We have backed ourselves and our systems and hopefully we can continue with that next weekend.”
White said the turning point in the game came five minutes from the end. “That touch kick by Ruan Pienaar was probably one of the best we have had this year. Andre was cramping and Ruan volunteered and bashed it miles. From that we won the lineout and got the penalty.”
Captain John Smit had nothing but praise for Pretorius’s calm under pressure to slot the angled kick that gave the Boks their first win in six matches. “The pressure for that kick was huge and Andre handled it magnificently. Straight afterwards we shared a little smile and then I knew we had the game,” said Smit.
The Boks turned over the ball almost at will at lineout time and that provided the base from which they could launch some their attacks, but it wasn’t easy. “There was hunger and desperation… all those ugly words which surface after five losses in-a-row. It’s a big relief to finally have got a win.”
The Springbok song, sung only after Test wins was belted out in the change-room afterwards, but a few players were a bit off key. “It’s been such a long time,” laughed Smit, “that I think some of the guys may have forgotten the words. But it was great to be able to sing it again.”
One thing is for certain, the Boks will savour the moment and enjoy a few cold ones this evening. The hard work starts again on Sunday night. One swallow does not a summer make.
By Andrew Hollely, at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace