Bok coach Rassie Erasmus admits he got it wrong against England
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus partly took the blame for his team’s poor‚ uninspiring start on defence in Saturday’s win in the first Test against England at Ellis Park.
The Boks slumped to a 24-3 deficit in the first quarter but rallied to record a 42-39 win over the Red Roses.
Erasmus admitted that England‚ with three flyhalves in their backline‚ surprised him tactically and his team was caught short.
“We thought they were gonna kick‚" he said.
"I didn’t think we were gonna have to defend.
"They started running in their 22. Tactically I got it wrong a little bit.
"Also the way they attacked was wider than our 13 and straight into our wings.
“These days most teams defend high on the outside. We trained that way as well.
"We went up hard but didn’t get enough width. We had two young wingers winning their first caps with an outside centre on his second cap.
"The moment Siya (Kolisi) and the guys got that right it went really well.”
Despite the ballooning scoreline against them‚ the Springboks kept their composure and crucially‚ they did not panic.
“I was obviously very nervous‚” said new captain Siya Kolisi.
“We all took charge and told the guys to calm down.
"We knew that wasn’t what we worked on during the week. The new caps didn’t panic.”
The coach concurred.
“Last week wasn’t the start we wanted and this wasn’t the home start we wanted. I was worried‚” said Erasmus.
“There were a lot of young guys on that park against a lot of experienced England players. It could have gone bad really for us.
"Well done to Siya (Kolisi)‚ Duane (Vermeulen)‚ Beast (Mtawarira) and Handre (Pollard) and everybody who played a bit of a senior role in the team. We only scraped through‚” said Erasmus.
England coach Eddie Jones believes the Springboks played their ‘get out of jail’ card in this Test.
“They could have put us away‚” Erasmus acknowledged.
“We could also have put them away at the end when we were leading by 12. It is going to be a massive one in Bloemfontein.”
Apart from getting the win‚ Erasmus also blooded some new talent but the nerve jangling win had other spinoffs.
“Character is something we can take forward and build on‚” said the coach.
He vowed to continue building depth in his squad and was keen to underline the perils that come with it.
“We are going to have challenges in the next few months‚" he said.
"We are going to make brave calls and we are going to lose some matches by making brave calls. We have to put certain guys under pressure.
"If we don’t put them in these situations we’ll never know if we can win the World Cup.
“Everybody thought going with Faf (de Klerk) was taking a chance but he was awesome. The same with Willie (le Roux).
“We don’t want to trust just 14 players going to the World Cup‚ we need a squad of 31.”