Smit urges Boks to ‘take an honest look in mirror’

2010-09-06 00:00

WHILE Springbok coach Peter de Villiers was again putting a positive spin on another Test defeat, captain John Smit was urging his players to take “an honest look in the mirror” in assessing their own performances after the weekend’s Tri-Nations loss in Bloemfontein.

De Villiers praised the Springboks’ remarkable revival, which saw them fight back from 31-6 down after just 26 minutes to take the lead before losing 41-39 to a last minute, 50-metre Kurtley Beale penalty.

The Bok coach said the squad remains on track for the World Cup in spite of a series of defeats.

“The guys showed great character to come back,” he said of the Bloemfontein Test. “The structures in place can take us to the World Cup. If executed properly, they can be effective.”

His despondent captain was less certain about the future.

“Everyone knows here we have players with experience,” Smit said. “I told all the players that we have to get up tomorrow and have a good, long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror and see if we’ve brought everything we have got to the team.

“The margins are small, but for two weeks in a row now we have had to play catch-up rugby and we don’t want that. We want to be clinical for a full 80 minutes and if we are honest with ourselves we are below par and off the pace.

“Character can’t win you a Test every week,” he added.

The Boks, slow to close down the Wallabies in the first half, were repeatedly left chasing shadows down Bryan Habana’s flank.

“It was certainly too easy for them to get through our defence and again we needed to play catch-up rugby. We didn’t implement our defensive system properly. We wanted to put in a decent performance, but we only have ourselves to blame,” Smit said. “We came off second best and if we are really honest with ourselves we have a lot of work to do.”

SA Rugby Union president Regan Hoskins said yesterday that the performance of the Springboks and their coach will be discussed at a meeting to be held later this month.

“All rugby followers are extremely disappointed with the results [five losses, one win] in the Tri-Nations, as are the Springbok team and management,” he said.

“We take the situation very seriously, but there is a process in place and we will follow that through.”

Hoskins said De Villiers will face a formal hearing regarding his comment that the Springboks support Blue Bulls forward Bees Roux in his forthcoming trial on a murder charge.

He added that he had written to the family of Johannes Mogale to express the union’s “support and condolences during their time of mourning”.

Meanwhile, Australian hooker Saia Fainga’a was yesterday suspended for two weeks following his ugly spear tackle on Bok lock Flip van der Merwe during Saturday’s Test.

Fainga’a, who was yellow-carded, was cited by Sanzar match commissioner Steve Hinds.

He pleaded guilty to the charge and was suspended for two weeks by judicial officer Nigel Hampton, who said that the tackle was reckless rather than intentional.

The South African camp will again be concerned at Sanzar’s inconsistencies after Bok centre Jaque Fourie was suspended for four weeks for a far less dangerous tackle.

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