De Villiers finds positives in Puma debacle
It may come as a surprise to many who witnessed the Mendoza debacle that Springbok captain Jean de Villiers took a few positives from the 16-16 draw with Argentina.
De Villiers said he felt the Four Nations stalemate, which ended that way only because of a fortunate charged-down try by inside centre Frans Steyn, was a step up from the 27-6 victory over the same opponents in Cape Town the weekend before.
"Now that I've looked at the game again I feel better," he said. "Immediately afterwards I was a bit frustrated, but there were some positives."
Said positives were the much-maligned attack during the game: "Even though our attack was criticised I felt we attacked quite nicely. They came out to spoil our ball and got away with it, but our attack was really nice at times."
De Villiers said the only reason the offensive game did not translate into points on the board was a lack of quick ball, thanks to referee Steve Walsh allowing the hosts to get away with not showing daylight at the tackle.
"What we saw was that it was not the phase where we tried to get momentum that was the issue, it was the phase afterwards, where we didn't get quick ball."
Asked to pinpoint which areas he felt needed urgent attention, De Villiers said "discipline, execution, and I felt our set phase took a step back".
"Also, I know that people say we kick too much, but I felt we also played too much in our own half," he said. "Our kicking was probably not up to standard."
De Villiers, speaking after the Boks held a training session in front of an admiring crowd at Soweto's Orlando stadium, said he and his team understood the criticism that followed the draw.
"With every team I've been involved with, whenever we haven't lived up to expectations, we have been criticised. Whenever we haven't played well nobody, not even my own family, has ever said we played well.
"We have to be honest with ourselves, but we've also got to believe in what we're doing."
Looking ahead to the next leg of the Four Nations, against the winless Australians in Perth on Saturday next week, De Villiers said it would be a clash of two teams under pressure.