Springboks eye return to winning ways
July 16, 2010
The only way is up for John Smit and the Springboks © Getty Images
South Africa captain John Smit is confident his side can return to winning ways against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.
The Springboks were crushed 32-12 by a far superior All Blacks side in Auckland last weekend but Smit believes his side can conjure a turnaround in form and score their first ever win at the Westpac Stadium.
South Africa's defeat at Eden Park bore similarities to their 19-8 defeat in Wellington in 2008, when their pack was well and truly eclipsed by the hosts. A week later they bounced back with an enthralling 30-28 win at Dunedin, their first success at Carisbrook ending New Zealand's world record winning Test streak at home.
Smit didn't play in the Dunedin Test - he was injured in a lifting tackle at Wellington which resulted in a suspension to All Blacks lock Brad Thorn - but remembers the determination shown by his team-mates both in the leadup to and during a famous win. He also remembers the feeling of satisfaction post-test.
"The experience from that turnaround week, the guys will hold on to," Smit said. "I can only imagine that the guys on that trip would have those memories of what can be done and what should be done if you apply yourselves. It's that which the guys will try to pull towards tomorrow."
Seven of the Springboks who started at Dunedin will do the same tomorrow, including matchwinning scrum-half Ricky Januarie. Victory was snatched in the final minute when the livewire No.9 crossed via a perfectly executed chip and chase.
"Sometimes those bounces don't go your way in those away games," Smit said. "You have to force those situations through your own tactics and your own belief. If you're away from home and the expectation is on the home side to win, and you want to change that, you have to do what you're really good at well, for the 80 minutes. When you do that, you give yourself a chance for the ball to bounce the right way."
South Africa fly-half Morne Steyn has also rubbished suggestions the Springboks need to change their gameplan. "I think the whole team is ready for this week. We must take another step from last week. It wasn't the best week we wanted," said Steyn. "The whole Springbok set up and the way we play...there is nothing to be changed now that we lost.
"I think it is just the small things we have to do 100% and concentrate on the kicks to be more specific and on target and hopefully we will go better. We played the same sort of rugby and won the Tri Nations last year so we don't want to change the whole gameplan if we lose one game. We are still going to stick to our kicking game but we want to give the guys outside a little bit more."
The South Africans were cheered by some positive news overnight when lock Danie Rossouw was cleared of a calf strain niggle and will start his 50th test tomorrow.