Kwagga Smith and Cobus Reinach said the Springboks knew what they had to work on and were ready to sharpen up as they prepare for the Test matches against the British & Irish Lions starting next Saturday in Cape Town.
The national team received a welcome boost on Sunday with the news that Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni (both hookers) and Dan du Preez (loose forward) would join them later in the day in Cape Town after completing their mandatory self-isolation following positive COVID-19 test results two weeks ago.
The SA ‘A’ team suffered a disappointing 17-14 defeat against the Vodacom Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday in the build-up to the Castle Lager Lions Series Test matches, and while the players were deeply disappointed with the result – despite a vastly different team taking the field to that which edged the British & Irish Lions 17-13 on Wednesday – they admitted there was hard work ahead.
“We lost momentum and didn’t dominate up front, but well done to the Bulls,” said Smith.
“We got the game time, we could see where we made mistakes and we can work on that from there. For now the focus is on our system.
“We haven’t played Test matches in almost two years, so we got together and started working on it in the last three games (including the Test against Georgia), and we can now analyse that.
“We need to use our opportunities because in a Test matches there aren’t many of them, so we have to convert them into points, and we have to sharpen up and get into our system and enforce it onto them.”
Reinach also emphasised the importance of improving on the quality of their performance before they line up against the tourists in the first Test next Saturday and said: “We left a lot of opportunities on the park, but that is something for us to look at, and each one of us has to look at our performance (individually).
“We can improve, and we have to ensure that we do better when we find ourselves in a similar situation. We are aligned as a squad and we know what we have to do.
“We need to execute what we want to do at a platinum standard, and everyone just needs to do their job and make sure they do it well.
“Collectively we didn’t put our stamp down, but we can fix that, and we are feeling confident going forward.”
Reinach was not concerned about which scrumhalf British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland would select next week given the tight competition between Conor Murray, Ali Price and Gareth Davies, saying they were all quality players.
“Competition in any squad is good,” said Reinach.
“If one doesn’t have the best game or was put under pressure, someone is aligned and can step in and do the job. But the British & Irish Lions will know what to do.
“It doesn’t matter who they choose – we need to do our thing and enforce our game plan on them.”