Jean: Still lots of work

Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Soweto - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers played down his team’s massive 73-13 victory over Argentina in their opening Rugby Championship match at FNB Stadium on Saturday night, saying the Boks “still have a lot to work on.”

According to the website, the Boks were simply scintillating in their nine-try demolition, racking up a huge victory - an apt performance for the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day - and giving themselves a superb start to the competition.

But De Villiers was circumspect, especially as the Boks head to Mendoza this week for their first of three away games - something that will determine just how well they do in the Rugby Championship.

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After drawing there last year, the Boks will want a similarly clinical performance away from home next week.

Obviously happy with the win, De Villiers however tempered expectations, and believes the Boks still have a lot of work to do before they face antipodean rivals Australia and World Champions New Zealand in the coming weeks.

“We still didn’t use all the opportunities we created, and we didn’t capitalise on everything we did,” De Villiers said afterwards.

“We have to see the game in perspective. They got two yellow cards and one intercept try against them. We still have a lot of work to do.

“We will enjoy tonight because these nights don’t come around too often, but we know we want to improve every week. This may have been a great start for us, and we showed this week what we can do, but there are still things to rectify.”

De Villiers enjoyed playing in front of a 50 000-strong - and very vocal - crowd of very different supporters from what the Boks are used to.

He said that the atmosphere, which resembled a carnival at times, certainly inspired the Boks.

“The atmosphere was fantastic. We really enjoy that, and this is the difference in playing at home. We were happy to see the crowd and must thank them for their support. We know this is more than just a rugby game and sporting event. It was about the whole of South Africa and uniting the nation behind an icon.

“You could say the Madiba magic really worked for us today and we were very proud of our performance.”

In contrast a broken Argentine coaching staff lamented their performance.

"We are very disappointed," Argentina coach Santiago Phelan said. "In the first half we didn't take control of the ball, we were under pressure everywhere. In the second half we were broken."

Felipe Contepomi, who captained Argentina at the age of 36 and scored all their points, put it out there hard and cold in his assessment.

"Last year we struggled a bit, this year we struggled a lot," Contepomi said. "It's hard when you take a shot like that. We have to learn, and fast."

It is clear the Boks will need to be just as good in Mendoza and are nowhere near the finished article yet.

But a start like this is easy to build on, and certainly makes a statement.

Its now up to the Boks to back it up in the coming weeks.

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