Cape Town - Regardless of the result, Saturday was a day to remember for Siya Kolisi as he found himself captaining the Springboks for the first time.
With the Springboks 21-10 down against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, regular captain Eben Etzebeth was unable to return for the second half as he broke down with injury.
It meant that Kolisi, in his 28th Test match, took over as skipper as the Boks fought their way back, but fell just short to go down 24-22 in the end.
It is a result that has placed even more pressure on under fire coach Allister Coetzee, who has won just 11 of his 25 matches in charge of the national side over the past two seasons.
It has been widely reported that Coetzee will lose his job before the end of the year.
That decision will only come in mid-December, but speaking after the match on Saturday, Kolisi was full of praise for his coach, saying that he had been let down by his players at various times over the past two years.
"We have a great coach here and it was a tough year last year," Kolisi said.
"We play in a country where rugby means a lot to us. From last year to this year, our coach has bitten the bullet for us.
"Every time we do well, it’s all about the players and it becomes about us and how amazing we are. As soon as something bad happens, it’s all the coach and he’s not good enough to coach."
Kolisi added that there had been noticeable improvement in the Boks side this year compared to last, when they won just four from 12.
The flank also spoke off the numerous changes the Boks have had in backroom coaching staff over the last two years.
"I don’t think it was an easy road for him. Every time we get a new coach and this one comes and this one goes. I’m not making any excuses, I just think it was tough for us as players to adapt to everything," he said.
"He (Coetzee) has stuck by us and he always took the bullet for us. The Boks are so much better than we were last year, but we’re never satisfied and he’s never satisfied.
"He speaks to us as a team and he always wants us to get better every single time. He doesn’t accept defeat and he just wants to get better."