Andre Pretorius admits that he will have to play a lot smarter against England than he has in his last two Tests.
â€œItâ€™s not the comeback to northern hemisphere rugby that I wanted,â€ he told keo.co.za when asked about his performances on this tour. â€œBut after a really bad game, you stand there and you wish for another chance. Thatâ€™s something that Iâ€™m getting this weekend. Iâ€™m really looking forward to dominating this upcoming game, playing the role that a flyhalf should be playing.â€
Pretorius replaces the injured Butch James for the second Test against England at Twickenham this Saturday. In the previous fixture, he made a couple of mistakes that gave the home side the opportunity to fight back after the Boks had held a commanding lead. Pretorius concedes that a cooler head may have seen a different result to the much anticipated clash between two desperate teams.
â€œThere was that kick that didnâ€™t go out, as well as the kick that I booted out directly. I should have just taken my time with that first kick. Steve Walsh rushed me a bit by telling me to get on with the game despite an injured CJ van der Linde laying in my path.
â€œBut thatâ€™s absolutely no excuse, I should have calmed myself, set my target and put it out. Instead I rushed it, and well, everybody saw what happened.â€
Against Ireland a week earlier, Pretorius had a similar game where he struggled to find any semblance of control. Playing behind a pack that was being bullied by the home team, he looked ordinary, and the inclement weather did not improve the situation. However, Pretorius states that a quality player rises above the circumstance, and you have no one but yourself to blame for a poor performance.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t the best conditions, but thatâ€™s where a really great player should have put his foot forward and said â€˜Iâ€™m going to take hold of this gameâ€™.
â€œAs for the pack affecting my own game, if I couldnâ€™t handle it, I would have gone to John Smit and told him what was not working. It says something when a 19 year old [Frans Steyn]comes out when things arenâ€™t going your way and plays the game of his life. Thereâ€™s actually no excuse for it; the bad conditions do not necessarily dictate poor play.â€
The Boks play a third midfield combination in as many weeks, but Pretorius is certain that the changes forced by injury will have no adverse effects.
â€œWe defended really well last week, and the combinations seem to be working. After the Ireland Test, we placed a lot more emphasis on our defensive game. Itâ€™s such an important aspect, as it gets us motivated as a team and gives us our rhythm.â€
By Jon Cardinelli, in London