The Springbok coaches have called for perspective on the defeat to Leicester but are wary of the test that awaits them against France in Toulouse.
An inexperienced and ill-equipped South Africa were beaten 22-17 by a second-string Tigers outfit last Friday, exposing poor selections and under-preparation, particularly with regards to scrummaging, a facet of play were they were decimated.
However, head coach Peter de Villiers remained optimistic in his view of the defeat and diabolical performance, saying, ‘There are more positives than negatives in the loss.
‘Now we know where we’re going. We knew it would be tough with only a week’s preparation. It was an eye-opener, but if we didn’t have the game we wouldn’t have known what we do now.’
De Villiers peddled the same rhetoric after a Springbok B side were schooled by the British & Irish Lions in the third Test, making his explanation for the latest embarrassment perplexing. He continued by offering a lack of leadership for the dirt-trackers (captain Chiliboy Ralepelle limped off with a foot injury 20 minutes into the contest) as a mitigating factor for the defeat.
‘One of the problems we have agreed upon is that of leadership. We now know to address that,’ he said.
The first-choice Springbok combination won’t be short of experienced leaders on Friday evening, and will be favourites for victory, having bagged the notable scalps of the Lions and their southern hemisphere rivals Australia and New Zealand.
They will, however, have to make exponential improvements to the standard of scrummaging they have exhibited thus far to negotiate the challenge of Les Tricolores, as well as hope that the replacements for outstanding loose forwards Juan Smith and Pierre Spies offer them similar value in their areas of specialisation.
Assistant coach Gary said France would be as tough as the All Blacks, who the Springboks have beat thrice in Tri-Nations, in terms of physicality.
‘They have a big strong pack and they will be very physical,’ Gold said. ‘They’re the one team in the world with New Zealand who can match our forwards with size.
‘They’re an emotional team, with a lot of passion. They’ll be playing in a small stadium, and if a French side comes out firing they can rip the heart out of anybody.’