Boks closed chapter on 2016 'annus horribilis'
REACTION: Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is adamant his team has 'closed the door' on the disaster that was the 2016 season and are moving in the right direction.
Speaking after South Africa's 37-14 (four tries to two) win over France at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, at the weekend Coetzee said he was "very pleased" with the team.
However, he has clearly become tired of constant references to his debut season as Bok coach - when they managed a paltry 33 percent success rate (four wins in 12 Tests).
"We have closed the chapter on 2016," Coetzee told a post-match media briefing.
"I selected the best possible squad to take on France.
"I am happy and very pleased with our performance - the performance, not necessary the win.
"When a team plays like that and [execute] the things we worked on, it is really pleasing to see we are moving in the right direction."
Coetzee said was "step one" out of 13 games in 2017 and it is "a step in the right direction".
He expressed his delight with the team's defensive effort, attack and the kicking game.
"It is a team that doesn't play to lose, but a team that has got the belief in their ability to play the game in different ways," Coetzee said.
"Baby steps. [The] first step. Right direction."
Both Coetzee and captain Warren Whiteley made i clear it was far from a perfect performance and the need for the Boks to "keep improving" as a team.
Coetzee said that the team laid a good foundation at their training camps, especially the last one in Plettenberg Bay.
"Nothing is perfect, neither was our game," he said.
"We have a team environment that is growing and taking shape, you could see in the last five minutes how the guys defended.
"We know the French played without a number of their stars, yet they had us under pressure at times, but we never stopped working for each other."
Whiteley also spoke of the 'sound foundation' that the win at Loftus laid for the next 12 Tests, this year.
"We did establish some really good foundations," the new Bok captain said of the build-up - which started with three training camps during the Super Rugby season and a week-long get-together in Plettenberg Bay.
"Our cover defence was good, but we will have to keep our feet on the ground," Whiteley warned - expecting a massive backlash from the French in the second Test in Durban this coming Saturday.
"We had some pressure before the Test, and we know the remaining two matches will not be easy.
"There will always be mistakes, but we worked hard for each other to rectify that."
By Jan de Koning - at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria