De Klerk: Gutted Boks looking forward

Faf de Klerk said the Springboks will be coming back fired up in next weekend’s second Test against the British & Irish Lions after a disappointing loss in the first Test on Saturday.

The Springboks let a nine-point half-time lead slip to lose the first Test of the series against the Lions, who scored 19 points in the second half to claim a comeback victory.

Going into the break 12-3 ahead after enjoying the better of the territory battle in the first half, the Springboks struggled to maintain their momentum in the second half as the Lions turned the home side’s kicking tactics against them and forced them into plenty of errors.

Echoing head coach Jacques Nienaber’s view of the match, De Klerk pointed to the Boks’ inability to cope with the Lions’ kicking game as a key factor behind the result.

“The first half went really well. We were getting into the air and we won plenty of the ball back. We hoped it would go the same in the second half and we still got good outcomes with many of our kicks.

“But in the second half, they just managed to get the loose ball in the contests and we didn’t get it. So there is a bit of homework for us to do. We have to do better when they kick on us and make sure that we get into the air if we kick. It’s great learnings for us this week.”

De Klerk rejected the idea that the Springboks had underestimated their opponents. He added that they had let themselves down with their disciplinary issues in the second half, particularly in the first five minutes of the half, when the Lions scored their try through a five-metre driving maul.

“They weren’t better than what we thought. They are a quality side. Where they challenge us was, from a Lions point of view, the guy coming off the bench is just as good if not better than the guy that’s playing. So that’s a challenge that we have to face.

“Our discipline slipped in the second half. If we can replay those first five minutes of the second half, it would probably be a different outcome. It was a really close game. A few decisions could have gone either way.”

De Klerk admitted that the Springboks were really disappointed after the match, but will come back stronger in a do-or-die second Test next Saturday.

“The boys are really gutted. We really wanted to win this first one. But we know it’s a three-Test series and we need to hold our heads high. I think a lot of the boys performed well tonight. There are a lot of learnings from this game, but there can’t be anymore excuses. We need to take this on the chin and move forward.

“We are a proud nation and we definitely will make sure we rectify the errors that we made. We will definitely come back with more fire in the belly. We need to control our anger to make sure our discipline is in check. If our discipline is good and we can sort out our aerial battle, we should be good going forward.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge next week, but we are looking forward. It’s wounded Springboks that will be playing and that’s how we like it, with our backs against the wall so we can fight our way out of it.”

Photo: EJ Langner/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack