AUDIO: Coach puts Boks on notice
LISTEN as South African coach Rassie Erasmus speaks about the threats posed by Argentina in Salta on Saturday.
The Springboks are on the cusp of history, winning the Rugby Championship for the first time.
However, Erasmus warned that focusing on claiming a rare SANZAAR title could detract from the Boks’ immediate goal – overcoming a dangerous Los Pumas outfit.
“If we want to win the Rugby Championship, we first have to get past them,” Erasmus said of the Salta showdown – then reminding his team of the last time they visited Argentina.
Los Pumas beat the Boks 32-19 in Mendoza, just a week after South Africa won 34-21 in Durban.
“It will be great to win the Rugby Championship, but we are up against a team that gave us a good hiding last year.”
Erasmus said that winning the Rugby Championship will create a lot of belief in the team.
However, there are aspects of their game – such as the line-outs last week and scrums – that need attention.
“We have to win the small little battles,” the Bok coach said, adding: “If we start thinking about winning the Rugby Championship and World Cup, we might lose the small battles that win you the matches.”
He suggested Argentina was a much better team than their results suggest – a 16-20 loss to New Zealand in Buenos Aires and a 10-16 loss to Australia in Brisbane.
Erasmus hinted that Los Pumas was closer to a historic win over the All Blacks in Round One, with a dubious call stopping a late Los Pumas maul.
They were also very competitive against Australia away from home.
“What [Los Pumas coach] Mario [Ledesma] did by bringing back players from France and getting players to play in [the First Division] in South Africa and Super Rugby, they created a squad with tremendous depth.
“If you just look at the scoreboard [defeats in the first two rounds of Rugby Championship] they will be disappointed.
“However, if you look at the development and the close margins you will see they are close to being a big force in world rugby.”
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Erasmus said they will tap into the experience of players who have played in Salta before, where the atmosphere is very different.
“We shouldn’t get caught out like we were before, with the environment and atmosphere.
“They [Los Pumas players] seem to grow another leg.
“We will have to grind out a victory. We are prepared for what is coming our way.
“They are the one country that does the leg tackle really well. The Rugby League style tackle, up high, is all the rage and Argentina brought the leg tackle back into the game.”
He also felt Argentina has evolved their game – with the focus more on attack and not so much on the scrum anymore.