More injury woes for Springboks after loss
Posted on 06/26/19 9:35 AM
The Springboks face a further test of their depth against the Wallabies after injuries to halfback Ruan Pienaar and flanker Francois Louw marred their fifth successive loss to the All Blacks.
Coach Heyneke Meyer was proud of his team’s courageous showing on Saturday, operating on scraps of possession for much of a tense affair before launching a late assault which could have turned around the 14-10 scoreline.
However, their winless record in Wellington since 1998 continued, leaving Meyer to hope their improvement this year can translate onto the scoreboard in their two remaining Rugby Championship Tests.
They host Australia in Cape Town in two weeks and New Zealand in Johannesburg a week later after losing narrowly to both in wet conditions away from home.
“I truly believe this team is getting better and better. We just didn’t prove it the last two games but we really want to play attractive rugby and move the ball around,” he said.
“I thought our defence was immense. The All Blacks are an unbelievable attacking unit, they threw it from pillar to post.”
Meyer’s men will face the Wallabies without 80-Test veteran Pienaar, who hobbled out late in the first half with knee ligament damage which will sideline him for 6-8 weeks.
The impressive Louw is also an unlikely starter after exiting with a pinched nerve in his arm, leaving Meyer staring at a growing loose forward sick list which includes Willem Alberts and Schalk Burger.
Several experienced backs were also missing in Wellington.
“I’m looking forward to the World Cup and spending more time with the players, because that makes a huge difference,” Meyer said.
Captain Jean de Villiers found it hard to get enthused about having played his 100th Test, believing his team need to learn to finish close games.
He reckons the turnaround could come on October 4 at Ellis Park, the scene of a thrilling Test loss to the All Blacks last year.
“We definitely believe we can beat them but it is much easier said than done,” he said.
“It is a loss against a quality side, a very good team. We gave ourselves a chance and it’s just an attitude thing and maybe a bit of concentration.”
De Villiers and Meyer both praised the performance of 20-year-old first five-eighth Handre Pollard, whose attacking touches and defensive bravery hint at a promising career.