Deans backs Springboks to come good

Sun, 06 Nov 2016 06:50
Large allister coetzee and robbie deans chats 800

REACTION: Barbarians coach Robbie Deans believes the future is bright for South African rugby despite his side's holding the Springboks to a dramatic 31-31 draw at Wembley.

An already tough year for South Africa threatened to get worse when they were 19-31 down with just nine minutes left in their European tour opener on Saturday.

But an unfamiliar-looking side - several first-choice players were missing ahead of next weekend's Test against England across London at Twickenham - squared the match after centres Francois Venter and Rohan Janse van Rensburg both crossed late on.

Their efforts completed a 10-try thriller which saw Australia's Luke Morahan, a second-half replacement, score two for the Barbarians.

"South Africa are always thereabouts. They were the closest team to beating the All Blacks at the last World Cup and they will be right there in the next one [in Japan in 2019].

"Because of the expectations of the nation, they'll find a way to be competitive," the former Australia coach added.

The worth of a non-cap Barbarians international has been questioned in a professional era where star players are often unavailable because of club or country commitments, but not by Deans.

"The Barbarians fixture is unique. It's given a young group an opportunity to show that they can play at this level. There will be lots of people watching.

"In New Zealand, they will be looking at the loosehead [Reggie Goodes] and a number of blokes who've had one Test and guys like Richard Mo'unga [who came off the bench to land a couple of conversions] and [centre] Richard Buckman who aspire to that level.

"Things happen in such a congested calendar year, there's a lot of injuries and you just don't know who's going to be there at the end.

"They can't go back to 'Beaver' again at the next World Cup," added Deans in a reference to flyhalf Stephen Donald who kicked the decisive points in New Zealand's 2011 World Cup final win over France following his late call-up to an injury-hit squad.

But he stressed Saturday's match would have done a lot for South Africa as well as Barbarians past and present.

"They got the equivalent of an international, which puts them in a much better place for next week," he said.

The Barbarians did though force numerous turnovers thanks to a New Zealand backrow of Luke Whitelock, Jordan Taufua and Brad Shields who have just one All Blacks cap (Whitelock) between them.

Agence France-Presse