Substitute debate still raging in South Africa

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    09 Oct 2018     Getty Images

However, Erasmus has defended his actions saying he was forced to substitute key players.

Up 30-13 with 21 minutes of the game left, Erasmus made all eight of his substitutions in the final quarter of the game.

The All Blacks made some of their first changes moments into the second half when starting props Owen Franks and Karl Tu'inukuafe were replaced by Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Tim Perry.

Erasmus said he had to replace fullback Willie le Roux because he failed an HIA due to concussion. Halfback Faf de Klerk needed to be replaced because he was cramping.

The first replacement he made, prop Frans Malherbe needed to come off because he was tired.

After Rieko Ioane scored the first of New Zealand's three final quarter tries, Erasmus replaced lock Eben Etzebeth while hooker Malcolm Marx was replaced with eight minutes of the game left.

Erasmus said the players would learn from the experience.

But he added: "New Zealand made better use of their bench. I thought their bench played better when they came on, not because of effort, but more of experience. That showed tonight when they brought experience on and our boys are still learning to handle those things.

"I will never blame the subs, because if I blame the subs then I blame myself. I also have to take responsibility because I was the one making the subs."

Meanwhile, South African critic Gavin Rich said in a SuperSport column that South Africa had already made its mark with their win in Wellington to appease critics at home and they only needed to be competitive in Pretoria to retain the perception of improvement.

But the All Blacks had also taken benefit from the game.

"Coming from behind like they did, winning when all seemed lost, would have been worth more to them in terms of confidence and growth than had they pitched up at Loftus and scored a regulation victory.

"For 74 minutes it looked like New Zealanders might be waking up wearing sack-cloth and in deep mourning this week. The potential impact of a second defeat to the Boks cannot be underestimated. Kiwis are just religious in their support of rugby and their national team. It goes beyond that, and anyone who has been in that country when they have lost a series or an important Test will tell you that the reaction can be over the top," he said.

However, Rich highlighted the continuing debate of the Erasmus substitutions when saying the coach would say that the time to experiment was before the World Cup and not during it, but Rich said there was a counter argument that possibly another win over the All Blacks would have been of far greater benefit because establishing a winning habit, after being in the doldrums for so long, was more important than anything else.