Pretoria - All Black coach Steve Hansen praised his team after their come from behind victory in the Rugby Championship match against the Springboks in Pretoria, but warned it would mean little less than a year before the teams meet in their opening pool match at the Rugby World Cup.
The All Blacks came back from 30-13 down to record a 32-30 victory at Loftus Versfeld and gained some revenge for their loss in Wellington two weeks ago.
But Hansen said the result meant nothing ahead of the World Cup, which would see a massive showdown between the two sides.
“Everyone gets excited that this game will make a difference at the World Cup, but it won’t matter a hoot. What it will do is for young players who haven’t been in a situation where they have been behind before, they will put their head on the pillow tonight understanding that they don’t stop believing,” he said.
“For the South Africans it will be don’t stop playing. Don’t give an inch so both teams will get plenty out of it from that point of view. But what it means for this World Cup, when I think back to the last World Cup, we had played South Africa a number of times and come out on the right side of the scoreboard, we snuck home by two points and on the day South Africa easily could have won that one. It is just what happens on the day, how you turn up and how you respond to the challenges.
“They are building a good team and we are trying to build one too.”
Hansen praised his players for their efforts and character to come back from the brink and claim a remarkable victory.
“I’m very proud of the character they showed and you think back a couple of weeks and we didn’t manage the game that well. I think Kieran and the leaders can take a lot of pleasure and satisfaction at how they managed tonight’s game,” he said.
“As you said it could have easily been one that we let go and allowed them to win. But they dug in deep and refused to give up and sometimes if you keep on knocking at the door someone will open it and come in.
“South Africa I thought played incredibly well, and are probably unlucky not to have won it. While we were sitting in Wellington thinking we were unlucky not to win. It is great for the game and for everyone who watched tonight, will know it was a good game. Some people will be disappointed but they would not be disappointed with the quality of play here tonight.”
Hansen said his bench had carried the team through.
“They did what we asked them to do, they provided energy and purpose. Someone like Ardi (Savea) had to come on early and he has really made a mark.
“I think he is really starting to believe he will become a test player of quality, he made two big turnovers near the end and obviously scored the try. He had to go a long way into the game, more than we wanted him to. Richie (Moanga) also came on and did what we wanted to. All of them did their jobs like you wanted to.”
All Black captain Kieran Reid said it was an “awesome feeling” to win.
“I feel pretty good. Yeah to win a game like that, it obviously feels fantastic. Those are the type of games where you feel all through the game you are not going to win.
“So there has to be a belief in there somewhere deep inside you to keep yourself going and keep going for it. I think we just showed that tonight. And then to come out on the right side of it, it is an awesome feeling.
“There was always plenty of time on the clock, even though we were down 14 I think at times, and even 17, there was always time on the clock for us to get back into the game. Ten minutes to go and we were down 12 and I thought we were right into it and finding some momentum.”
Read praised the Springboks for dominating them throughout the game.
“We finally got the ball, looked after it a little better and got into their half. I felt the majority of the game they dictated us and they did a fantastic job of that and we didn’t really have much chance to impart anything on them and that is one thing we will look back on and try to improve.”
The Boks will be off for two weeks before reassembling for the end of year tour.
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