Rugby Championship: Steven Kitshoff backs Springboks to bounce back against Wallabies

David Skippers

Despite suffering back-to-back defeats to the All Blacks and Wallabies, Springbok front-row Steven Kitshoff is confident the world champions can pick themselves up and return to the victory trail in this year’s Rugby Championship.

After suffering a 25-17 loss to Australia in Adelaide, South Africa will be determined to turn the tables when the sides meet again at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

“The back-to-back defeats was a bitter pill to swallow, but I still believe this team has the potential and skill to be world-beaters,” Kitshoff told the Springboks‘ official website.

Out for revenge

“We have three games left in the competition and we have the opportunity to turn things around.

“We are settled in Sydney. We had our first training session of the week today (on Monday) and it went well, and since we’ve been in Australia for more than a week now, everyone is acclimatised to the time zone.”

The defeat to the Wallabies at the Adelaide Oval means the Boks are still winless in Australia since 2013 and they can ill afford another loss as it will damage their Rugby Championship title hopes.

However, Bok assistant coach Deon Davids echoed Kitshoff’s sentiments and backs them to return to winning ways this weekend.

“We are blessed with a balanced squad with a good mix of youth and experience, and with a few experienced players out with injuries, we have been able to give a few young players a chance in the last few matches, and we believe they will gain a lot from that going forward,” he said.

Davids and Kitshoff are in agreement that missed opportunities contributed to their loss in Adelaide and the coach said it would be something they will be focussing on in the build-up to the Sydney Test.

“We did a thorough review of last week’s game and in the end, it came down to Australia creating opportunities, which they used, while we also created a lot of opportunities, but we didn’t capitalise on them, and that’s our main focus this week,” he added.

Kitshoff agreed and said: “From a player’s perspective we were extremely disappointed after the match, and we still are with the result. But after a review of the match, we saw how many opportunities we created, which we didn’t score points from and that gave us more confidence.

“It doesn’t change the result, but it has made us more positive.

“The guys had a great attitude at training today and we are up another big Test this weekend.”

Argentina and Australia are setting the pace with nine points apiece atop the Rugby Championship table, after winning two out of three matches, while New Zealand are third with five points in the standings and South Africa are one point adrift in fourth place.

Tournament still up for grabs

Both the All Blacks and Springboks have managed one victory so far and Davids feels there is still lots to play for in this year’s tournament.

“The fact that the competition is so competitive shows how challenging this tournament is,” said Davids.

“With the teams playing so well it also means you have to be the best every Saturday to get the result. One can also see the growth of the teams in the competition, and this is great preparation for us a year out before the Rugby World Cup.”

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