Both the Springbok head coach and stand-in skipper were upbeat about the remainder of the Tri Nations despite the 16-9 reverse at the hands of Australia last Saturday.
The Springboks have now completed their away leg of this year’s competition, taking five points from a possible 15 thanks to the losing bonus point gained in defeat in Perth and an historic win over the All Blacks in Dunedin.
Although the World Champions ended their Australasian tour on a losing note, both Peter de Villiers and Victor Matfield found reasons to be cheerful ahead of their three Tri Nations fixtures still to come.
The Boks take on Argentina in a friendly on August 9, a week before playing New Zealand in Cape Town in the first of three successive Tri Nations home fixtures.
“It is easier to win at home,” says Matfield, who led his country at Carisbrook and the Subiaco Oval after John Smit was injured in the opening defeat to the All Blacks in Wellington.
“But it is still going to be tough. We are in a position where we can still win the competition if we win our three home games, especially with the bonus point, which is particularly valuable at the end of the tournament.”
Head coach de Villiers, who has a record of four wins from his first six fixtures in charge of South Africa, suggested that the manner in which his side respond to their defeat will be more important than the loss itself.
“We are not the No1 team in the world for nothing,” said De Villiers. “We are never happy if we lose a game. But the guys did their best. You can’t win every game. It is about how you control it (the defeat).”