Johannesburg – Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss has a simple message for his Bok team ahead of Saturday’s Incoming Tours match at Ellis Park – return to the Springbok standard.
According to SuperSport, the Boks were shocked by a 14 man Ireland last week, an embarrassment for Springbok rugby and for Strauss in his first game as captain and he admits taking the loss personally and expects his teammates to respond strongly in the second game.
“It wasn’t the ideal part – definitely a massive honour to be captain – but I take the loss very personally,” he admits.
“It was not a good start for us for the season and the campaign, but we get another chance this weekend. We need to be better and need to make better decisions. For me it is personal, we need to get it right.”
Strauss has been at the forefront of leading the team this week, telling them they need to get over the loss and be ready for the onslaught they will face in Johannesburg, and turn up with an attitude that is worthy of Springbok rugby.
It isn’t revenge in Strauss’ eye, but rather a standard that needs to be met.
“We need to right the wrong, and as I said it was personal for me,” he adds.
“This is not about vengeance, this is about our own standards. We are a great group of players and we have the ability to be better than we were last week. We need to live up to that expectation that the supporters have and we need to get there.
“For us we said before the first game we have high standards for ourselves. The vision the coach has for us, we want to chase that in every single game. We definitely let ourselves down, the supporters and the country, but we also let him (coach Allister Coetzee) down as well. As players we want to make a step up.
“There was also a couple of positives. Our setpieces went well at stages and we also created a bit of opportunities. We could have scored a lot more and our decision-making in some instances wasn’t there. The ruthlessness of getting over the line – I believe that will be there this weekend.”
Strauss will be looking for a smarter performance from his team this weekend, one where they are ruthless when they finish the opportunities they create and one which gets the Bok side back on track.
“Losing on your home soil will always be tough for a South African team. The start – the idea I had for a great start is gone. This group is a group of great players and we deserved better. We owed ourselves a better performance if I can put it that way,” Strauss said.
“We need to be smart with the rush defence where they get off the line. And we need be better up front at maul time – that is one area we pride ourselves in – they did well there and they gained a bit of momentum there. So that is an area we must face up to.
“Again, at the breakdown they were effective at turning over the ball and disrupting us, so the breakdown will also be crucial.”
The proof will be in the pudding on Saturday, and Strauss knows this. If there ever was a thought of a honeymoon period for him and Coetzee, it certainly is long gone now. Winning is the only option for this group of players.
The alternative is unthinkable.