DURBAN (Reuters) - South Africa captain Adriaan Strauss admits the side have been their own worst enemies this season as they prepare to close their Rugby Championship campaign against an all-conquering New Zealand at King’s Park on Saturday.
Strauss, who will play the final home match of his Springbok career after opting to retire from international rugby at the end of the season, bemoaned his team’s poor execution that has seen them already lose three times in the tournament.
Against the rampant world champion All Blacks, who have already wrapped up the title and are seeking a 17th test win in a row, those mistakes will likely be even more harshly exposed.
“This season, every game where we weren’t on par, we played against ourselves,” Strauss told reporters on Friday.
“We need to get our own execution right. Time and time again this season we have been our own biggest enemy,” the hooker added.
The Boks beat Australia 18-10 in Pretoria last weekend despite giving up the lion’s share of territory and possession, and Strauss said New Zealand would be much more adept at punishing them than the Wallabies were.
“You don’t want to give them the opportunity to play in your half,” he added.
“Tactically, we need to be better and that’s not just kicking but game management-wise, not making mistakes, giving away penalties, allowing the opposition to get into and stay in our half.”
The Boks might not possess the sleight of hand of the All Blacks but one area where they can match them is the set-piece and Strauss believes much of the New Zealand success this season has been built on their line-out play.
“They will put pressure on you 100 percent of the time, they will be in our face. If you have a weak moment, they will take that opportunity,” Strauss said.
“We want to get quick ball and get into the right areas. In this case we are playing against a very streetwise team, they are cunning at the breakdown. They don’t give away a lot of penalties.”
Strauss added that there was no chance his emotions would get the better of him during his final home appearance.
”It’s not emotional for me, it’s all about playing the All Blacks tomorrow (Saturday). My personality is quite task driven, the moment there is a task at hand, that’s where the energy goes.
“There is a release when the final whistle goes and then perhaps the emotions take over.”
Editing by John O'Brien