British & Irish Lions

Springbok victory pursuit never affected by Rassie sideshow: 'We just focused on the rugby'

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Rassie Erasmus was the Boks' water boy once again. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
Rassie Erasmus was the Boks' water boy once again. (Photo by EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber insists Rassie Erasmus' controversial refereeing video was never supposed to have any effect on the team as clear boundaries were set in that regard.
  • The national director of rugby's act dominated the build-up to SA's victory in the second Test against the Lions, but the hosts were clearly able to detach themselves from it.
  • Skipper Siya Kolisi supported his coach's assertion, stating that the team merely focused on controlling what they could.

It's perhaps an easy thing to say in the aftermath, but Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber insists that Rassie Erasmus' now infamous refereeing dissection was never going to directly affect his troops because clear boundaries were set.

South Africa's series-levelling 27-9 victory in the second Test against the British & Irish Lions was dominated by the World Cup-winning mentor's extraordinary leaked video earlier this week, which had many doubting whether the team could channel the incident positively or, at least, detach themselves from it.

READ | Springboks show world champion pedigree to bury British Lions and level series

"Obviously, Rassie, as director of rugby, has something on his heart," Nienaber said after the match.

"It's something that we discussed and we agreed that (his video), to put it like that, was off-field stuff. We, as a team, knew that we needed to focus on rugby."

And concentrating on the game was exactly what the Boks did as they survived a first half where they lacked rhythm and front-foot ball to comprehensively outplay the tourists in the second 40.

"Hats off to the players. We had a proper review earlier this week. It was actually a really tough week in terms of analysis. We were really hard on each other," said Nienaber.

"Our reviews are focused on everyone, not just the players but us coaches too. We get things wrong too and sometimes we get it right. We put our hands up and all admitted when we did things wrong.

"We really just focused on the rugby and the things we can control. That's what we did. The off-field stuff was handled by Rassie."

Pieter-Steph du Toit injury concern

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber expressed his concern over star loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit trudging off with a suspected shoulder injury during the first half.

But there will only be clarity on 2019's World Rugby Player of the Year's affliction later next week.

"Pieter-Steph is the type of guy I know won't come off normally during a game," said Nienaber. 

"I haven't seen him come off willingly much. The assessment hasn't been done by the medical team yet and it will probably be 48 hours before he'll have a proper diagnosis once all the specialist input has been received.

"Then we'll have a proper picture. But he's not a guy who goes off on his own." 

Skipper Siya Kolisi, who delivered an outstanding individual performance, concurred with his coach that the South Africans really weren't perturbed by Erasmus' controversial act.

WATCH | Lions show Boks respect, clap SA off the field after 2nd Test battle

"We were told there were a few things that needed to be said (on Erasmus' forum), but our whole focus was just on ourselves," the marauding loose forward said.

"We were really calm for the whole of the week. But when we got onto the field, everything we did was at 100%. We knew mistakes were made last week and we worked on those.

"From the outset, the coaching staff told us to focus on what we can control - the set-pieces, the kicking game etc. We were reminded that all of us have a role to play in getting this team to function on the field.

"Even I disappeared at times in the first Test. We did what we needed to do, but we must remember that this win is only the beginning. 

"There's still one game to go. There are still things to fix."

After this performance, that might not be a particularly comfortable thought for the Lions.

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