No false sense of security for Springboks

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee says Australia’s seemingly rapid turnaround between Bledisloe Tests was no surprise to them, as they prepare for a Perth showdown with Australia.

While the Wallabies licked their wounds from an opening 54-34 Bledisloe defeat in Sydney, the Springboks were pummelling Los Pumas in Pretoria, before beating the Argentinians in Salta a week later.

Coetzee said, though, that opening weekend was not as grim as it seemed, and there would be no false sense of security for them.

“If you look at the first Test and you take the mistakes out of that first Test, every single mistake they made they got punished,” he said in Perth on Monday.

“You don’t just get an impression because of the fast start of the Kiwis in the first Test. We always knew despite the Super Rugby performance, this is a good Australian side.

“Take 50 players from Australia and put them together, you’ll still have a world-class team out there.

“They’ve got really quality backs and a pack that can lay a foundation for them.

“That first Test, don’t look at the score.

“We’ve seen how good they can be and it was a question of executing on the day. Their execution was much better in the second Test.”

The South Africa coach was quick to praise the Australian backline, with plenty of positivity for returned centre Kurtley Beale, whose impact on the side has been noticeable.

“Kurtley Beale is an exceptional player, he’s one of those world-class players and he will always have a massive impact in any game because he’s a skillful player,” he said.

“He reads space very well, he’s got all the skill sets to distribute, to be able to kick and read, he’s a good reader of the game.

“The Aussies are coming so we will have to make sure we’re not just focused on just one individual.

“It’s a massive challenge for us, we’re under no illusions.

“We’ve shown tremendous improvement in ourselves but this is a real test for us this weekend.”

For many Australian fans the Test will be hard to separate from ongoing Super Rugby issues, with the Force to find out whether their appeal against an arbitration decision allowing them to be axed will be upheld.

Fans are planning to don Force jerseys to the game in a colourful protest against the ARU, but Coetzee said the Springboks didn’t want to enter into commentary about the situation.

“I don’t know how it will affect them. For us, we focus on the Test,” he said.

“That’s our biggest thing, that’s why we’re here, to play Rugby Championship and a tough Test against Australia and that’s what we focus on.

“I’ve read about it and I’ve read about people coming out in blue and supporting … but it’s not for us to have any say in that.

“Those are policy issues upstairs and I’d like those issues to stay upstairs.”

The Wallabies host South Africa on Saturday night at nib Stadium, kicking off at 6pm AWST, 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten, Win and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.