Physical conditioning and a shift in mentality are behind Boks' recent success‚ says Jesse Kriel
The Springboks were highly impressive in defence in the recent Rugby Championship wins against New Zealand and Australia and outside centre Jesse Kriel puts it down to physical conditioning and a shift in mentality.
The Boks stood firm and took pressure in the closing stages of the two matches with most of the players still looking good despite energy-sapping 80 minutes of intense and physical rugby.
Kriel offered his own assessment of the Boks' performances in the morale-boosting victories.
“It is definitely a mental shift and conditioning wise we are up there‚” he said as they continued preparations ahead of the showdown against the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
“The guys are fit.
"They have been able to go for 80 minutes and those who are coming off the bench have also made a huge difference.
"They help us to finish matches on a good note.
"We have good decision makers on the park and the rest of us are just working hard.”
Kriel‚ who is one of the key members of the Springboks defence‚ added that they would have to put their bodies on the line against the All Blacks's world class forwards.
“Organising the defence is part of my job at No 13 and it is a huge responsibility‚" he said.
"We have a process that everyone has bought into and you can see that guys are putting their bodies on the line.
"You can have great systems in place but at the end of the day you have to go out there and perform as individuals by making those tackles.
"We know what we are up against and it is a simple issue of going out there and putting our bodies on the line for our country.
“Teams are relentless in attacking out there at Test level and in my position you get asked a lot.
"Coach Rassie Erasmus has empowered players like me to make bold decisions in Test matches.
"You are not always going to get it right‚ but you have seen the effort that the guys have shown to scramble and clean up.”
Inside centre Damian de Allende‚ who missed the clash against the Wallabies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last weekend‚ is expected to return to action at the weekend and Kriel said he enjoyed working with the Stormers star player.
“He is a world class player and what he brings to the table is really special‚" he said.
"He has good skills set‚ he can take guys on and he is strong on defence.
"We are comfortable playing close to each other and it is nice to have him back.”