JOHANNESBURG: Warren Whitely, one of the heroes of the come-from-behind win against Ireland on Saturday, has scoffed at suggestions it was the Lions players who turned the Test match around for the Springboks.
Whiteley came off the bench to score one of four second half tries for the Boks as they rallied from 3-19 down at half-time to win 32-26 – and give new coach Allister Coetzee his first win in charge of the national team.
Warren Whitely, one of the heroes of the come-from-behind win against Ireland on Saturday, has scoffed at suggestions it was the Lions players who turned the Test match around for the Springboks. Credit: BackpagePix
The comeback started in the 57th minute when another Lions Super Rugby stalwart, Ruan Combrinck scored a sensational try after bulldozing Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson. The other tries came from Pieter-Steph du Toit and Damien de Allende, while flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked 12 points, including the final penalty in the 80th minute to seal the deal for the hosts.
“In no way is this a Lions team… this is the Boks,” said Whiteley after his strong showing off the bench.
“Collectively we’re working towards a specific game plan and style of rugby, and it’s not going to happen in a week or two. It’s going to take time. We’re working extremely hard, we worked extremely hard in the build-up to the Cape Town Test and that’s why it was so tough to take (the defeat) last week. “We’re slowly starting to feed off each other, understand each other’s rhythm and learning how play with guys who we haven’t played much rugby with before.”
Indeed, the Boks are a new-look side and at times on Saturday it appeared as if the players didn’t know the person next to them. But, as coach Allister Coetzee also pointed out, he’s only been in charge for a few weeks, unlike the Irish team that have been together for a few years now.