Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says angry fans are allowed to boo his players if they disapprove. South Africa pulled the rabbit out of the hat on Saturday in Johannesburg with a 32-26 win over Ireland in the second Test, after trailing 26-10 with 20 minutes to play. The Boks were booed off at half-time with the deficit standing at 19-3.
Coetzee says everyone is entitled to their own opinion but his troops cannot allow the jeering to affect his players: ‘We don’t listen to being booed off. The fact of the matter is it could happen to any team. When a team gets the comeback, that’s what I’m looking at. Resilience is one of our core values and we spoke about being resilient. If we don’t out-resiliate (sic) them we’ll never beat the Irish. The second thing is the impact we had from the bench. Some guys might have an off day. That’s why we have 23 players.’
SA captain Adriaan Strauss was surprised at being told at the post-match press conference that he and his teammates were the subject of the crowd’s wrath. The hooker claims he did not even hear it: ‘Maybe I was thinking too many things at that stage but what I could hear in the second half was every time we gained momentum and got over the advantage line, I couldn’t actually hear. It was very loud out there. On the throw for the lineouts I couldn’t hear the calls actually so I found it very positive, especially in the second half. The crowd helped us in the second half. I didn’t actually hear the boo.’
The Springboks will meet Ireland for the third time to decide the series winner in Port Elizabeth this coming Saturday. Coach Coetzee hails from PE but says this homecoming is not something he is thinking about too much, especially after his other homecoming (first Test at Newlands, home of Western Province/Stormers, where he coached for eight seasons). He says: ‘What I’ve learned is to take it as it comes. We want to start from zero on Monday. The war is not won yet. The battle was won tonight. Going to PE, we want to improve on tonight’s performance.’
The Bok boss has a positive outlook, saying: ‘As long as we believe as a team that we’re on the right track and doing the right things, and our players are selfless in what they do, I’m happy. Whether we’re gonna get the results now or not, I know we will. It’s part of the journey to becoming a good team. Tonight is just a little building block towards that. Don’t write us off. We can lose and we understand and we’ll take it because Springboks don’t lose easily. We accept that.’
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