Allister Coetzee's Springboks suffered their first defeat of the year to the All Blacks in Albany. KweséESPN looks at some of the coach's main concerns after the humiliating Rugby Championship defeat at the hands of their fierce rivals.
Where to now for Allister Coetzee and the Springboks?
Coetzee has stuck with more or less the same squad of players in 2017, and he would have been pleased with how most of them have progressed in the first six matches of the year. However, against the All Blacks, many of those players were badly exposed.
So what now for Coetzee after this record defeat by the All Blacks? Does he start again with a few more fresh faces, or maybe recall some of his battle-hardened Boks playing overseas? Or does he persist with what he's got and write this result off as a bad day at the office?
I'm glad I'm not in his shoes.
Everybody should take responsibility for this hiding
While some of the players on the field were badly exposed, the spotlight must also be shone on the coaches. Brendan Venter and Franco Smith came in to support Coetzee and were hailed for the Boks' turnaround in 2017. But on Saturday the Boks' cumbersome defensive system and lacklustre attack failed the biggest test of the year. The same could be said about the scrum and the lineout, which were supposed to be the Boks' strengths.
Essentially, Coetzee and his coaching team are back to square one. They now know that the five wins against France and Argentina, and the draw with Australia, were a false dawn as the Boks are still far off being genuine contenders at the 2019 World Cup.
The Springboks' lack of intent was shocking
The Springboks showed real enterprise and physicality in five Tests against France and Argentina earlier this year. But against the All Blacks, and the previous week against Australia, that urgency and intent was lacking in a big way. And it was on both attack and defence.
The All Blacks play with intent, and they are proactive rather than reactive with or without the ball. On Saturday the South Africans looked like they were hoping for something to happen instead of making it happen. The Boks were flat-footed on attack and defence, and just couldn't handle the intensity and the tempo of the world champions.
The composition of the Bok bench is a massive problem
The composition of Coetzee's bench has been a problem over the last two weeks, especially among the backs. There is a distinct lack of X-factor players, who Coetzee clearly doesn't trust to make an impact if we count the minutes they were on the park against the Wallabies and the All Blacks.
Damian de Allende and Handré Pollard didn't come off the bench against Australia, and got 10 and 23 minutes respectively against All Blacks, even though the Boks needed some fresh impetus shortly after halftime in Albany. Both of them aren't really players who play with flair and change a game. So why have them as impact players?
Boks need a genuine fetcher to match Wallabies, All Blacks
Against France and Argentina the Boks looked comfortable without a recognised fetcher, with Siya Kolisi doing a top stand-in job as an opensider. But in Perth and Albany the Boks came up against Michael Hooper and Sam Cane, who halted their momentum at the breakdown.
The role of a fetcher is not just to steal ball, but also protect his team's ball on attack. He always finds himself with his head stuck in a ruck. It's a role that Kolisi can play, but he's not as good as a scavenger who grew up in that role. Besides, Kolisi's ball-carrying ability is much more valuable to the Boks trying to win or retain possession.