Boks must dig deep, says Smit

Captain Jon Smit has said it is up to the Springboks to turn around their wretched start to their Tri-Nations’ title defence after their third straight heavy defeat on the road.

The world champions went down 30-13 to the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday on the back of their 32-12 and 31-17 losses to the All Blacks in New Zealand.

The Springboks have also paid dearly for their lack of discipline with centre Jaque Fourie banned on Sunday for their next Tri-Nations’ Test against the All Blacks in Johannesburg on August 21 after he was cited for a dangerous tackle against the Wallabies.

That follows suspensions for winger Jean de Villiers and lock Bakkies Botha in each of the two Tests against the All Blacks.

Smit, who led the Springboks to their 2007 World Cup triumph in France, said the blame for South Africa’s woes lay squarely with the players and it was up to them to turn things around.

‘We have to be honest’
“We were poor against the Wallabies and we have to be honest with ourselves,” Smit said late on Saturday.

“We haven’t actually played our game yet and we have ourselves to blame for all three defeats.

“We’re not really on the money in anything and we are going to have to dig deep and work hard and make sure we can actually put some rugby together before we assess whether we are going in the right direction.

“At the moment we have just been poor and we’ve seen the results for three weeks.”

Smit said the Springboks’ porous defence has been the worst facet of their game on their Australasian away leg, conceding 93 points in three games and leaving them without a point ahead of their three remaining home matches.

“We are very realistic about how poor and average it has been in most areas in the last three weeks and it hurts us even more to concede so many points,” he said.

“We are very aware of what we have to do over the next few weeks before we get our next chance to rectify things.

Missing playmaker
“But I will be the first to say that we have been poor defensively and at the breakdowns. Our attack has been ordinary, so we have a helluva of a lot to work on.

“We can look at the last three games 100 times, but it is going to have to come from us if we want to change things round.”

Smit said the Springboks could not just point to the absence of injured star scrumhalf Fourie du Preez for their woeful form.

“We have to believe that we have got more in our squad than just the loss of one man [Du Preez] and at the moment we probably haven’t adapted well enough without him, in terms of combinations and how we have approached the games,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can fix that and get it right and get the combinations that we do have working to the best of their ability by the time we get to our next match in Johannesburg.”—AFP

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