Pollard: 'The plan was perfect and the attitude was good'
South Africa face the vexatious challenge of turning around their Rugby Championship campaign after the barren performances of the last fortnight.
Having been outplayed “in every department” by a resurgent Australia in Brisbane at the weekend, they lost their No.1 world ranking to New Zealand and their chances of retaining the Rugby Championship crown is minimal at best.
On Sunday the team travelled to Townsville – a city on the north-eastern coast of Queensland – for the build-up to the Round Five encounter with New Zealand this coming Saturday.
Seasoned Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard said the team will need to have an “honest” review of the loss to the Wallabies if they hope to turn it around this week.
“We can’t mope and feel sorry for ourselves,” he said of the weekend’s horror show in Brisbane – a 17-30 loss to the Wallabies, a week after losing 26-028 to the same opposition.
“There will never be a lack of motivation when we face the All Blacks,” he said, adding: “We realise we are not up to standard at the moment, but the way I know this team when we are with our backs against the wall we will bounce back.”
Pollard, 27 and capped 55 times for his country, suggested the 17-30 loss was the team’s “best attacking performance of the season” in terms of finding space and getting the ball in space.
“We just were not clinical enough,” the seasoned flyhalf said, adding: “We didn’t capitalise on the opportunities.
“Every time we got into their half or their 22-metre area we just lost the ball.
“The plan was perfect and we executed it well.
“It was just the last passes and the wide breakdowns that we didn’t handle.”
Asked about the adage that defence is the evidence of the attitude of players and given that the team missed 19 of their 69 tackles (30 percent missed tackles) Pollard dismissed the suggestion that there is something amiss in the team.
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“No,” was the flyhalf’s curt answer to a @rugby365com question, adding: “[It is] definitely not an attitude problem.
“The guys pitched up.
“If every guys misses one tackle, that’s 23 missed tackles.
“It happens. It [19 missed tackles] is not good enough. It is not our standard.
“However, there is no attitude problem.”
Pollard said the Wallabies did a “brilliant job” in terms of analysing South Africa.
“They had good plans in place, which we also did. They just executed it better.
“Both sides came with their strategies and whatever they did, they just did it better than what we did.
“It is small margins in Test rugby, but those small margins can quickly turn into a 17-30 loss.
“We knew what was coming, but we just didn’t execute our plan well enough and we were not clinical enough.”
The Springboks arrived in Australia having won a series against the British and Irish Lions and two Tests against Argentina.
However, they now face the daunting prospect of back-to-back clashes against the new world No.1, the All Blacks.
The All Blacks have won all four of their Rugby Championship matches, easily accounting for both the Wallabies and Argentina.