Heinrich Brüssow says this group of Springboks have the capacity to defend the World Cup.
This is a view brought further into question after the Springboks, fielding their most experienced team ever, were beaten by a young Wallabies outfit at Kings Park. The defeat was their eighth in nine Tri-Nations matches (nine of their last 17 matches in total), which should be deeply concerning ahead of the global showpiece.
Yet Brüssow is adamant that their belief isn’t shaken and has urged the South African rugby fraternity to remain optimistic.
‘It’s our own fault we lost,” Brussow said. ‘It was bad to lose but people out there need to be positive. We know what we can do and we know we have quality players. This is the team that can take us through to winning the World Cup. But at the same time, the game against New Zealand is crucial because we do need to gain some confidence ahead of the World Cup and we need to win.’
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers scrambled for positives in the post-match media conference, even strangely claiming that ‘Australia only won on the scoreboard’, inferring his team were better in all facets of play. Brüssow was more measured, lamenting a poor second half performance.
‘We had a lot of control in the beginning, and it was going well. We created chances and we didn’t finish and that cost us in the end, allowing them to come back in the game. We made it difficult for ourselves. A few small mistakes cost us the game.
‘The Aussies deserved to win. We had our chances and our self-confidence was good going into the game. When we played with the ball we were able to dominate and if we had kept that up we could have won. But we gave them the chance to come back in the game and they deserved to win.’
Meanwhile, Mike Greenaway, senior writer for the Independent Group, reports that Bismarck du Plessis will start ahead of John Smit in Port Elizabeth. Greenaway, who covers the Sharks beat and has good professional relations with the Durban-based Springboks, writes that Du Plessis’ inclusion was always planned.
He added that Smit’s elbow injury is not nearly as serious as some media reports suggest. There were fears that the Springboks captain had torn ligaments in his elbow in the defeat to Australia and would miss the the World Cup.