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Springboks seeking credibility

Sportal.co.nz     01 Aug 2006    

The Wallabies crushed the Springboks by a record 49-0 in Brisbane two weeks ago and Smal said the Springboks were determined to restore some pride after the embarrassing defeat.

"We were extremely disappointed with the way we played the last time we met Australia and we're looking to make amends.

"The players now have the opportunity to show what they're made of. That's why it's called Test rugby because it tests your character." Smal said on superugby.co.za

Following the demoralising defeat to Australia there were calls in the South African media for the resignation of head coach Jake White but Smal said the pressure to give a better performance this weekend was more on the players rather White.

"It's more about the players' own pride and the pride of the team as a whole. We back the players and the team to show we're not just here to fill up numbers. It's not just about Jake White; all coaches are under pressure if they don't win," Smal said.

Smal also indicated that one reason for South Africa's below-par performances this season was due injuries to key players and fielding a relatively inexperienced team. But he also stated that one must also look at the bigger picture of getting a cohesive unit for next year's World Cup.

"We're where Australia were last year with a few injury problems forcing us to have young players in the team. The main reason for our poor form has been the experience we've missed because of these injuries."

"Just in the forwards we've lost Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw and Gurthro Steenkamp. If some of the youngsters could have played with these guys in the team it would have made a difference."

"This tour has been an opportunity to look at our depth now before heading to the World Cup. We know what we've got and we know exactly what to look for now."

The Springboks forwards coach added that he was impressed by both team's performances in the Bledisloe Cup encounter last Saturday, but the game had also shown some weaknesses in the Australians game that they hoped to take advantage of this weekend in Sydney.

"There are always weaknesses to isolate and we'll do a bit of work on those, but we must also be willing to play to their strengths, because they might not expect that," said Smal.

"We must concentrate on what has worked well in the past and stick to it."