Cape Town - The Western Force’s inexperience was exposed against the Sharks on Saturday, in their "worst performance of the year".
That was the word from Force head coach David Wessels who said the loss was their most disappointing in a two-win season, but a learning curve for their young reinforcements, amid a long injury toll that includes Wallabies regular Dane Haylett-Petty.
“I think that's our worst performance of the year,” he said after his side's 37-12 loss in Durban.
“We're probably missing nine or 10 players that you would consider potentially as starting players, and of the touring group we have here in South Africa, half of them are either under 23 or are starting Super Rugby for the first time.
“It's a very young group and I thought that showed tonight.
“Although this loss is very hard to swallow, we've got a group of guys that are touring South Africa for the first time and are learning some pretty valuable lessons about what it takes to win at Super Rugby level.”
Their next task is no easy one, facing the Jaguares in Buenos Aires but Wessels said their approach to that game would be telling.
“We'll be pretty disappointed with tonight's performance but we'll be thinking pretty hard about what's the next step for us,” he explained.
“Someone once told me that the samurai sword is built out of raw steel and it takes a few beatings of the raw steel to turn into a beautiful sword.
“I feel like sometimes we're raw steel and you need to go through these difficult times to actually learn those lessons.”
Young winger James Verity-Amm provided one of the high points, scoring his first Super Rugby try, while the return of Adam Coleman, though only 40 minutes long, was a welcome boost for the Force despite the result.
“We've been really skinny at lock over the last couple of weeks and I think the guys who've stood in there have done a great job,” added Wessels.
“Obviously Adam's a world class player and I think the guys playing in the lineout take heart from the fact that he's there.”
WIth another long haul flight to Buenos Aires, Wessels said management would be crucial.
“It's going to come down to how we travel and how we manage our bodies in the next couple of days, because we literally fly around the world in the next two weeks,” he said.