Redemption will be high on the Springbok to-do list when they face France in Paris on Saturday night as they’ll be eager to bury the ghosts of the hammering they received in Dublin last week.
In what could be one of coach Allister Coetzee’s last chances to hold on to his job, there is a hope that No 8 Duane Vermeulen, flyhalf Handre Pollard and centre Francois Venter will ignite the fire the Boks have so desperately lacked.
The Boks are not in a good space and hopefully the knock the country took by losing the 2023 World Cup to their hosts will at least create some fire in the belly.
While there is huge pressure on Pollard to be the general, the late kickoff (8.45pm French time) could create dewy and slippery conditions.
While French coach Guy Noves retained the same starting line-up, the massive physical figure of centre Mathieu Bastereaud could trouble the likes of Venter and Pollard.
Coetzee also warned that despite France losing 38-18 to New Zealand last weekend, they in fact “won” the second half 13-7.
South Africa’s 3-0 series win in June will also not count for much.
“France is a much changed and improved side and will certainly pose a different challenge this time,” said Coetzee.
“They have a new halfback combination and a strong ball carrying midfield, so they’re definitely not the same team we faced in June in South Africa.”
But there is a sense that the Boks have a more balanced loose trio with the return of Vermeulen as well as switching Francois Louw and Siya Kolisi back to their more conventional roles of open and blindside flank respectively.
“We have to be more accurate at the breakdown, especially with our reaction speed and basic fundamentals,” said Coetzee.
“Discipline, as well as our decision-making in tackle situations, are of paramount importance.”
However, the problem with this Bok side is that every week there’s fighting talk and how well they’ve trained, but when it comes to delivery, it’s been missing.
“We understand the importance of this match and we have to be at our best in terms of tactics, physicality and mental preparation,” Coetzee said.
“We have to in order to confront and match France in front of their passionate supporters.”