South Africa took a lot of confidence from their breakthrough win in Australia and will not let their long drought at Eden Park intimidate them ahead of Saturday’s clash against New Zealand, assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher said.
The Springboks thrashed the Wallabies 38-12 for their first victory in eight attempts dating back to 1965 at Brisbane’s Lang Park and will bid to end a 76-year winless drought against the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
“Very happy with the performance [at Lang Park], I thought the opportunities we had we executed well,” Loubscher, the Springboks backline coach, told reporters in Auckland yesterday.
“We took a lot of confidence out of last week... Last week showed that records are there to be broken so we’re going to approach this week the same as every Test match we play,” he said. “There’s nothing different for us. We’re going to prepare the same way and focus on our own game.”
“There are still lots of areas we still feel that we need to improve so that’s our focus,” Loubscher said.
South Africa lead the Rugby Championship by a point from champions New Zealand, who are also undefeated after three rounds of the southern hemisphere tournament, and Saturday’s clash may prove decisive.
The Springboks managed to overcome jetlag from long-haul flights to Argentina and Australia to win their opening matches, and five players flew from France for the match in Brisbane after appearing for Top 14 clubs.
The use of fly-in fly-out players has proved controversial in South Africa, but has had little effect on team cohesion, judging by the team’s record winning margin against the Wallabies on Australian soil.
“I think last year this time a lot of the guys were still youngsters,” flyhalf Morne Steyn said of the Springboks’ struggles last year, when they finished the tournament third after managing only two wins.
“I think that the time we’ve been together have [sic] made us a more experienced side and I think the confidence is there now. That’s the main thing,” he said.
Steyn flew to France after the Springboks’ tight win away in Argentina last month to play 20 minutes for Stade Francais before flying to Brisbane to join up with his team-mates for the Australia match.
Steyn booted 18 points to help sink Australia after notching 28 in South Africa’s opener against the Pumas in Johannesburg and slotting two late penalties to overhaul Argentina in the return match a week later.
He has struggled for form in recent seasons and was dropped by coach Heyneke Meyer halfway through last year’s Rugby Championship in favor of Johan Goosen.
However, Goosen suffered a serious knee injury when training for Super Rugby’s Cheetahs in March, sidelining him for the season, allowing Steyn to reclaim his spot for the June Tests against Scotland and Italy.
The 29-year-old finished the Super Rugby season as the competition’s top points scorer for his Pretoria-based Bulls and is relishing having his second chance with the Springboks.
“You get to the end of the career so I think you realize that you must enjoy your rugby, so I think that’s the important thing for me is just to enjoy every moment on the playing field and on the training field,” he said.