VIDEO: Rassie defends Bok bench
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: The Springboks replacements’ lack of impact during their agonising defeat to the All Blacks has raised a few concerns.
Up and until the 72nd minute South Africa were set to record a double over New Zealand – a comfortable 30-18 lead with just eight minutes to play at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
However, in the last minutes of the match the Springboks were forced substitute key players like Willie le Roux‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Faf du Plessis‚ Francois Louw and Frans Malherbe which seem to have disrupted the side’s momentum.
The All Blacks took full advantage as Scott Barrett claimed a pushover try with four minutes left and replacement flyhalf Richie Mo’unga converted.
All Blacks’ pressure took them to the Springboks’ tryline once more and another replacement Ardie Savea became the hero as he scored close to the posts, leaving Mo’unga to win the match.
When asked why he opted to employ the bench, Springboks head coach lightheartedly replied: “Because people asked me to give the bench a chance,” before giving his explanation.
“Willie got a concussion and failed his HIA. However, Damian Willemse played really well, made some brilliant moves when he came on.
“While at nine, Faf [de Klerk] was cramping, so that was two swaps at the same time – obviously it’s two big decision-makers coming off.
“And Vincent Koch was swapped early because Frans Malherbe said he was tired and needed to come off earlier.
“I thought the substitutions did well when they came off the bench. Having said that I think they [All Blacks] utilise the bench much better not because of effort but more due to experience.
“Think the players will learn from this,”
The coach admitted that he takes full accountability, faulting the substitutions’ lack of game time as one of the various reasons which aided the defeat.
“I will never blame this defeat on the substitutions‚” Erasmus told reported following the match.
“If I blame this defeat on the subs‚ I must as well blame it on myself because the amount of game time some of them got over the past games since I have been involved in June hasn’t always been what one would have wished for.
“It was maybe because of pressure and wanting to win and that showed because New Zealand had experienced substitutions coming on and our boys did not influence the game‚ but that was not because of lack of effort,”
The Springboks are next in action against England at Twickenham on November 3.