Willie le Roux of South Africa (Getty)
The Springboks’ 30-17 loss to Australia in Brisbane on Saturday was easily their worst performance of the year, but head coach Jacques Nienaber believes it was also one of the poorest Bok displays of the Rassie Erasmus era.
Nienaber and Erasmus arrived at the Boks in 2018 after two trying years under Allister Coetzee, and in 18 months, they turned South Africa into world champions for the third time.
It was a remarkable success story, and ever since that 2019 World Cup final win over England in Yokohama, the Boks have been the No 1 ranked side in the world.
The evidence of Saturday’s performance, however, suggests that they have slipped from those lofty heights.
The Boks have now lost back-to-back Rugby Championship fixtures against the Wallabies, effectively ending their charge in the tournament.
Nienaber, the mastermind behind the Springboks acclaimed defensive structure, has looked on as his charges have slipped a total of 40 tackles over two weekends.
Addressing media in Brisbane after the match, he was ruthless in his assessment of his side.
“It’s definitely not the worst performance of the year; it’s probably the worst performance since 2018 when we lost to Argentina in Mendoza. That’s how poor this performance was,” said Nienaber.
“It was not a great performance. In what areas? I think everything.
“The last time we conceded four tries in a game I think was against New Zealand in 2018 three years ago, so it definitely wasn’t up to standard.
“Our exit game wasn’t up to standard and was inconsistent … it wasn’t a great performance.
“We were truly beaten in every department. We got hands down beaten in everything.
“Defence, kicking game, attack … we just made too many errors.”
On that day back in 2018, Argentina beat the Springboks 32-19, but the Boks bounced back in the weeks that followed and would go on to secure a famous win over the All Blacks in Wellington.
They will have to show similar fight now, with two fixtures against New Zealand lined up for the next two weekends.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge,” said Nienaber.
“There are no positives, but the nice thing is to play against our Sanzaar boys again, and you get tested differently.
“For us, it’s a big eye-opener in terms of that, and it’s going to be a massive challenge against New Zealand.”
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