Alberts: Alister had a good gameplan
REACTION: Veteran loose forward Willem Alberts has come out in defence of under-fire Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
The 32-year-old, with more than 40 Test caps to his credit, agreed with the coach that the players are to blame for the Boks' woes.
The 21-37 loss to England in London at the weekend, the fifth in South Africa's last six Test, saw the pressure mounting on Coetzee - both for his poor track record (just 40 percent) and a seemingly outdated gameplan.
Coetzee said - in the wake of the loss to England - that individual errors cost the Boks and not his tactics.
Alberts certainly sang from the same hymn sheet, saying that "poor execution" rather than tactics were at the heart of the Boks' ponderous displays.
Asked for the reason for the loss to England, Alberts spoke of an 'in-form' team that outplayed the Boks on the day.
"I don't think the game plan was at fault on Saturday," Alberts said, adding: "It was more an execution problem than a game-plan problem."
He admitted the Boks still need to find the "balance" between their attacking game and kicking.
"I think in the wet weather we lost more balls than they [England] did," the Stade Français-based Bok loose forward said.
"The weather was there for both teams, but they executed better than us.
"I think we had a good game plan," he added.
"In the first half, we couldn't enforce it because they were kicking good kicks back [at us] the whole time.
"We were playing in the wrong areas of the field and it's always a territorial battle, especially in wet weather."
The veteran said a win over Italy in Florence this coming Saturday could go a long way to restoring the belief and confidence currently lacking in the Bok team.
"I think the ball retention is key for us at the moment. It is not the game plan. We cannot execute our game plan if we don't have the ball, so we need to do have better ball retention."
He said there is still a positive frame of mind in the team and that training is going well.
"Unfortunately we are just not putting it over into points and into wins," Alberts said.
"The belief will always be there when you pull the Bok jersey over your head. You always have a chance and a big responsibility, and I think it's still there.
"Yes, it is tough times, but we will keep on grinding every day in the coming weeks to get the result that we want."
The loose forward felt it can all be turned around with just one win, in Florence this coming Saturday.
"The structure just needs to click, then the results [victories] will come.
"Slowly but surely it is turning around."
He also felt the influence of the new assistant coaches, Franco Smith and JP Ferreira, has been very positive.
"I have learnt a lot. I played with JP [Ferreira] before [at the Golden Lions], but in a different role.
"I haven't played under Franco Smith before.
"However, it is great when you are in a team and you are learning and there are positive things happening.
"We must just keep on believing and keep on building."