Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis has given a frank assessment of how he reacts to criticism from the press following Saturday's loss to the All Blacks.
Du Plessis had come in for widespread criticism after a very disappointing Super Rugby season with the Sharks, but has received far better reviews for his performances in the Rugby Championship.
The 32-year-old, along with his fellow Sharks front rowers – brother Bismarck and Beast Mtawarira – have had the upper hand against both the Wallabies and All Blacks at scrum-time this year.
Speaking to many of the same pundits who were calling for his head not long ago, the Bok veteran didn't mince his words, explaining that he took criticism with a pinch of salt. He added the Springboks wouldn't lose self confidence because of recent results.
"If you play rugby long enough, and read in the paper you're sh*t enough times to know that you have to pick yourself up," said Du Plessis after the game at Ellis Park.
"If you're going to start believing in the loss, It's like believing what you read in the press – when you're good you're not actually that good and when you're sh*t, you're not actually that sh*t.
"It’s a very lonely place if you don’t have a successful season. Then it’s easy to find mistakes.
"Criticism, give me one guy who it doesn't affect, that man will be a liar.
"It does affect you. The thing about criticism, if you're a player you've had enough criticism in your life to know how to deal with it and whose opinion counts.
"The thing about criticism is that it really hurts your family more than you and people confront them.
"I don’t think I doubted at any time of the year whether I still have the desire or the skills.
"Unfortunately our season at the Sharks didn't go as planned, but that happened and it wasn't for a lack of trying. But I am really happy that we can play better when it matters most."
While the 62-cap veteran admitted the Springboks were bitterly disappointed to have lost in the closing stages once again, he insisted they would use the defeat as motivation.
"We'll be over it by Monday," he said.
"In, fact I think it will make our resolve even more. You never play to rectify a wrong, because you can't fix something that's in the past.
"But looking back at disappointments it can push you to higher levels."
Dr. Du Plessis did not start the second half against New Zealand because of a suspected medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury to his knee.
"It is actually not sore, it just feels weird, we don’t really know what it is at the moment but it looks like a medial ligament but by grace maybe I will be good," said Du Plessis, who is a qualified medical doctor.
"I am a quick healer and even if they take a staple gun and staple it on and I can run, I can be good."