Springboks

Boks have closed disastrous chapter - Coetzee

Allister Coetzee (Gallo)
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)

Pretoria - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee hailed the Springboks' resurgent form against France on Saturday during their 37-14 victory in the first clash of a three-Test series.

"We have closed the chapter on 2016, I have selected the best possible squad to take on France," he said of last year's woeful performances during a post-match press conference.

Coetzee will be hoping that the breakthrough will put to bed a woeful run of form -- seven losses in eight Tests -- that had raised questions about his future leading the team.

While Coetzee has insisted he is going nowhere, a 3-0 series loss to France would probably have left South African officials with no option but to dismiss him.

Coetzee praised his young and relatively inexperienced winning side that successfully tripped up Les Bleus at the Boks' hallowed Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

"You could see tonight they had a job to do... I'm very proud of the debutants," he said.

"Be it defensively, on attack or the kicking game... it's a team that believes in the ability to play, and different ways of playing.

"The energy in our side is really complementary, we're creating hard workers, very pleasing."

But Coetzee cautioned against complacency for South Africa's next two clashes against the French as the tourists were missing seven of their top players due to the domestic Top 14 tournament ending only last Sunday.

"The French played without a lot of their stars, they put us under pressure, there's a lot to work on," he said.

"Listen carefully: I'm pleased with the performance -- not necessarily the win. It is really pleasing to see we are moving in the right direction."

French coach Guy Noves accepted responsibility for the poor performance of his team.

"We were dominated physically, individually and collectively, we didn't take account of the physical form of their players," he said.

He also refused to be drawn on what impact the missing players had on his side's performance.

"I dont want to talk about players that weren't here but rather the players that were here," he said.

"It was not the most difficult game but the Springboks have a quality of game and player."

He laughed when asked if there were any positive aspects to the game, vowing to study the match along with his staff to try to understand the defeat and improve before the second Test in Durban next Saturday.

France should be stronger at Kings Park stadium in the Indian Ocean city as the entire squad will be available for selection.

The encounter followed a week in which South Africa's Western Cape region was battered by ferocious storms and ravaged by forest fires, claiming several lives.

"The other purpose of the Springbok team is to give hope to people and to inspire people... and the boys did that," Coetzee said, referring to the situation in the Cape.

South African supporters, furious at the national team losing eight of 12 Tests last year, will be delighted by the latest reversal of fortune.

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