Boks’ response must speak loudest

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said they had to be accountable for their poor showing in Mendoza and said that accountability must be exhibited through their forthcoming performances.

The Springboks produced their most woeful effort under coach Heyneke Meyer to date, stuttering to a 16-16 draw in the second Test of their Rugby Championship campaign last week.

They have subsequently taken lots of heat from the South African public and media and are under immense pressure to improve in the Tests that remain, their next assignment coming in Perth against Australia next Saturday.

De Villiers stressed the importance of identification and elimination of the errors they’ve made and called for a significant improvement.

‘We need to learn from our experiences, and we’re growing as a team, but you can’t keep making the same mistakes,’ De Villiers said at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday.

‘By Saturday next week we will know if we’ve stepped up or not. We’re building as a team. Our discipline needs to improve, our execution, and our set-phases have taken a step backward. We maybe need to improve 40 percent but the margins are very small in Test rugby.’

De Villiers added time had healed some of the wounds of that result and allowed them to gain a measure of perspective on it. He also refused to completely accept that their attacking play, which was a point of great criticism for its sterility, was fundamentally flawed.

‘We’ve put that game behind us. Looking at the game again I feel better about it,’ he said. ‘There were actually a lot of positives from the game. We believe we were a better team than how we played on Saturday. Even though there has been a lot of criticism of our attacking play, I thought that was actually quite good. The attack was quite good at times.’

Meyer’s game plan is widely perceived to be conservative and has been the central focus of his detractors’ vitriol. He needs it to come together against the Wallabies or face deepening and more scathing criticism thereof. While De Villiers accepted that they deserved to be questioned for their execution of that game plan, he, however, gave it the vote of confidence on behalf of the squad.

‘It’s a new coach trying to get a message and game plan across to the team,’ he said. ‘We will all stand up for what we believe in. We believe in the coach and what we’re doing is right.’