SA 'A' team loss: 'This is exactly what we wanted'
The Springboks, or South Africa A if you wish, got a rude awakening when they lost 14-17 to the Bulls in their final warm-up match ahead of the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Coming back from 0-14 down, the Bulls produced a spirited second-half performance to score a late winner – replacement flyhalf Chris Smith landing a 50-metre penalty for the victory.
Although disappointed with the result, Bok coach Jacques Nienaber said he got answers to some important questions ahead of the first Test against the B&I Lions at the same Cape Town Stadium next Saturday, July 24.
“I think we got a lot of answers – especially in terms of the questions we had over certain players,” he said, without elaborating over which players those may be.
“We needed a game to get answers and we got a lot of those [answers].”
Nienaber was loathe to name players, suggesting that would be an “emotional” response.
“As a team, it wasn’t a good performance,” he said.
“We needed these questions answered, by seeing the players under pressure.”
Nienaber added that the loss was the result of the Bulls’ greater “desperation” and said the ‘buck stops with the coach’.
(Article continues below video …)
The Bok coach was happy that most of the players managed to get valuable game time and he will now sit down – with his management team, as well as SA’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus – and do a “proper review”.
“At the moment, we have two hookers out due to COVID protocols [Mbongeni Mbonambi, Siyabonga Ntubeni] and we needed to see what Joseph Dweba and Fez Mbatha can do.
“Other players also got some valuable game time.
“Damian [De Allende] played 60 minutes, Elton [Jantjies] played 80 minutes and Damian Willemse had another run at centre.”
The Bok coach said they will do a coolheaded analysis of their three matches, as they start preparations for next week’s first Test.
“We will look at physical readiness and consider COVID protocols, before we select our team.
“We will consider a number of factors before deciding to select players who have not played for the Boks recently – like how long we have worked with them, their training stats and factors other like that.
“Some players who have been in our mix will slot back in more easily than others.
“However, we will have a proper medical feedback session tomorrow so will make a call who will be in line for Test selection.”