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'Ireland weren't interested in playing,' says Springboks coach Coetzee

The South Africa head coach said Ireland just wanted to bog the Boks down in their own 22.

Rory Keane reports from Johannesburg

IRELAND “WEREN’T INTERESTED in playing” during Saturday’s clash at Newlands, according to South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee.

Joe Schmidt’s side took a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series with a stunning 26-20 victory at the Cape Town venue, despite playing the best part of an hour with 14 men following CJ Stander’s red card in the 23rd minute following a clumsy collision with Pat Lambie.

Allister Coetzee Coetzee was on the defensive today. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Speaking at the Boks’ team hotel in Johannesburg today, Coetzee joined the likes of Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones in the past by criticising Ireland’s style of play.

“They weren’t interested in playing. All they did was make it as difficult as possible for us to exit, just put it in behind us, turn us and we were actually bogged down in our own 22,” says Coetzee.

“They got a drop goal and a chip try and it was a very clever tactic. I don’t think we handled it well, but I think we will be better this week.

With the scores tied at 13-13 at half-time, 14-man Ireland were the first to strike just after the break with Conor Murray shrugging off Eben Etzebeth’s tackle to cross for his eighth Test try while Paddy Jackson’s boot kept the scoreboard ticking over.

The Boks became increasingly more frantic as the second-half wore on making a flurry of unforced errors with replacement lock Pieter-Steph du Toit’s intercept try their only score  in the second 40 of the Test.

“What you shouldn’t be sucked into is the complete Super Rugby vibe, where it’s almost like a feel-good scenario where we keep ball in hand and run it from everywhere,” Coetzee explains.

“Sometimes it looks on, but it isn’t and you get shut down in your own half or you turn your own ball over in your own half.

“Test rugby is a little bit different, the players have a full understanding now about what Test rugby is about. All credit to the Irish, they really scrambled and they worked exceptionally hard when they were one guy short.

“But still, we allowed it to look really good. We need to really work on our execution, the big positive for me was the amount of opportunities we created.

“When we do the review today, the players will be in a way embarrassed to see that that’s what happened and that we couldn’t convert.

“Our conversion rate in the Irish 22 was really terrible. It’s not to the standard of the Springboks and we know that, but it’s something that we really can get right.”

Jordi Murphy celebrates after the match Ireland were the better side in Cape Town. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland’s victory capped off a phenomenal day of results with the Ireland U20s defeating New Zealand for the first time at that level while England demolished Australia in Brisbane.

It was quite the backlash from the Northern Hemisphere following a disappointing World Cup where the rugby ‘big three’ and Argentina dominated.

“I think the perception is since last year’s World Cup that the Northern Hemisphere might not be right up there with the four in the Southern Hemisphere because we played in the World Cup semis,” said the former Stormers coach.

“But the Northern Hemisphere teams are actually playing closer to Test-match rugby compared to us when we’re playing Super Rugby”

With Pat Lambie ruled out of the Test at Ellis Park with concussion, Coetzee confirmed that he was in contact with two out-halves to replace the Sharks man. Stade Fraçais out-half Morné Steyn has been called up to the squad, according to reports in the South African media.

Coetzee reported no fresh injury worries ahead of their must-win Test with Schmidt’s side:

“Yeah, everyone else is fine. There’s no one else that will be not be available for selection this week. There are bumps and bruises that you will always have on a Monday. I think two players will sit out of training today, it’s  nothing serious.

“It’s just Duane (Vermeulen) has got a knock just above the knee which is almost like a bit of a lame leg. He possibly could train after treatment and Lood (de Jager) has just got a tight calf, but there’s no tear, nothing, just a tightness.”

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