South Africa’s try-scoring lock Pieter-Steph du Toit accepted the boos as the Springboks left the Ellis Park field trailing 19-3 to Ireland at half-time.
And he used the anger they left him feeling to prove his compatriots wrong in a blistering second-half fightback. Springbok supporters in Johannesburg on Saturday had been non-plussed at their team’s sorry first-half showing in the second Test as the sloppy errors that cost them the series opener in Cape Town seven days previously came back to haunt Allister Coetzee’s side again in the Highveld. “At half-time we were booed off and I think we deserved it,” du Toit said.
“In the second-half we showed what we can do when we start to play and hopefully when we play next weekend we can start with that feeling and not disappoint ourselves or the fans as well. The crowd got behind us in the second-half.
“When we play good rugby they’re always behind you and you win their love.”
The boos, du Toit said, had helped shake the Boks out of their lethargy.
“There was anger to come out and start again and show ‘we’re not that bad’.
“I think we tried to show that in the second half.”
The lock added that captain Adriaan Strauss had asked them a searching question before kick-off. “He said: ‘if this was your last Test match for South Africa, how would you play?’
“In the first half we didn’t play like that but the second half we showed it,” said du Toit, who added his head coach had been upset at half-time but calm and collected.
“We were open, frank and honest with each other in the changing-room,” Coetzee said. “When I spoke about work ethic, I mentioned the players, mentioned their names. We needed to get that right. The players responded to that and that’s all I’m looking for. It’s not about what I say, it’s how they respond to the message.
“The first-half, add it to last week; that’s being in a dark spot, a hole. Not many teams can work their way out of the hole if there’s not something special in that team. I have seen a lot of brilliant teams who couldn’t make a comeback, but this team showed South Africa that, backs to the wall, they can fight. This is a little building-block. This is a message to South Africa, don’t write us off yet.”
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