BJ Botha admits that the Springboks are far from the finished article, but if they can lift their performances in all areas by one or two percent, they are going to be one hell of a powerful force in world rugby.
It certainly wasn’t the complete performance last weekend against Argentina, but I think we felt we needed to get the win first. We would be disappointed that we didn’t get the bonus point though and we made quite a few errors that let Argentina into the game. That didn’t help us.
We did, however, do well to take our points – Morne kicked brilliantly – and we scored some great tries. We didn’t, however, put them under enough pressure to put them away and get the bonus point.
We let them off and played in patches throughout the game, but it’s a win against an unknown Argentinian side, a team that we haven’t played in a while, and ultimately we got off to a winning start in the Rugby Championship.
Going forward now, knowing a little bit more about them, having done a little bit more analysis on them, it should bode for a good Test against them in Mendoza this weekend.
The breakdown for the Boks will be an area of concern, but I felt Steve Walsh was a little erratic in that area and we got a lot of slow ball. Walsh was a touch soft on Argentina, giving them three or four warnings, he went to the captain a few times about the breakdown, and didn’t really act on it - that didn’t help us.
With the gameplan that Heyneke Meyer is looking to play, it is obvious he is not looking at playing a fetcher – somebody like Heinrich Brussow – to play on the ground, but in this day and age we need everybody to be a good ball player on the ground and at the breakdown. It didn’t help when Bismarck went off either, because he is such a massive asset in that area.
I still think there is alot of room for improvement there, but at times it was reffed poorly and worked to our disadvantage.
The Boks, meanwhile, have been criticised for the way they played the game, and their inability to finish off the Pumas, but you have to really find the balance in Test rugby between expressing yourself and taking the points when you can. I think it’s about playing winning rugby, getting over the next hurdle and then expressing yourself when you are well ahead...
I must admit I was surprised when we didn’t play a bit more when we were so far ahead, but that is more than likely directions from up top, and you cant really question that. The time will come to cut
loose though and we will need to step up another level against the All Blacks and Australia – we cant be that cautious against them, we will have to take some risks against those teams.
It was all new ground for us against Argentina. Everybody was speaking about the new challenge, the unknown. As a player you obviously have respect for them, however, as the game developed, I think we could have opened up a bit more as the scoreboard ticked over.
I think we can take the same gameplan to Mendoza. Slowly strangle them and build an innings. Argentina will come out steaming in front of their home crowd, but I don’t think that will last. I think they thrive off that, but key for the Boks is to build an innings and quieten the crowd and then cut loose.
There is no doubt that this Springbok team can improve a lot, but I don’t think any team is ever really the finished article. We can definitely be a lot more clinical, but it’s the finer points that are
going to make the difference if we hope to put on a big score. We will have to improve all round – the lineout, the maul, the tight exchanges are going to be challenging.
We need to be more clinical in all areas really. If we pick up one or two percent in all areas of our game we will be one hell of a force to stop.
BJ’s weekend predictions:
New Zealand v Australia, Auckland: New Zealand have a great record in Auckland and I don't think they will have any problems holding onto that proud record when they meet Australia for the home leg. Australia will undoubtedly be improved, but I don't think they can challenge this All Black side in their own backyard. All Blacks 32-15.
Argentina v South Africa, Mendoza: South Africa will know a bit more about this Argentina outfit and there will surely be more clarity about some of their weaknesses, which the Boks will look to exploit. The 'Argies' will be full of passion and I am sure the 50 000 strong crowd will hold onto the hope of trying to get one over the Boks. That will remain a dream for the South Americans, however, as I see the Boks taking the same control over this fixture with a strong win! Springboks 28-12.