HARD WON: Pat Lambie lines up a penalty against England during the Test at Twickenham on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS
HARD WON: Pat Lambie lines up a penalty against England during the Test at Twickenham on Saturday. Picture: REUTERS

FORMER Springbok coach Carel du Plessis and assistant coach Allister Coetzee on Sunday echoed incumbent coach Heyneke Meyer’s sentiments that it was a case of "mission accomplished" to complete their year-end tour unbeaten and said the team had a good base to build from in the future.

Du Plessis, however, conceded that the team had to boost their attack to be a force in future.

The Springboks completed their tour with a hard-fought 16-15 victory against England at Twickenham at the weekend, marking their third back-to-back win.

The result left Meyer with a 58% win ratio in his first year at the helm, with seven victories, three defeats and two draws in 12 matches.

Commenting on the Springboks’ year-end tour, Coetzee said: "It was mission accomplished for Heyneke and the team. You have to win first in order to evolve as a side. There were a lot of young players in his squad and it was good for them to experience these victories.

"The building blocks are in place, so the team is in a good position to modify things going forward."

Coetzee paid little attention to the criticism levelled at the Boks for their dull style of play after bashing their way to victories against Ireland, Scotland and England, and said: "It is important to build a winning culture early on. Is a team judged on their style of play or their win-lose ratio? The All Blacks have a settled side, which is why they can make so many changes weekly.

"But I am sure Heyneke will tweak things with his full-strength squad back next year. However, there is no doubt that his term is off to a solid start, especially if one considers that he had a week to work with the team before their first Test and the fact that he worked with a new coaching team at this level."

Du Plessis was less complimentary than Coetzee, but he also said the team’s UK tour was satisfactory, especially since Meyer fielded a relatively young team.

"I suppose the aim on tour is to win every match and the Springboks accomplished that," Du Plessis said. "The conditions largely determine how a match is played, and it is important to build confidence within a team. We have quality players in South Africa who are still very young, which bodes well for the future. But going forward, these players have to be managed well to avoid being overplayed early in their careers."

Despite this optimism about the Springboks, Du Plessis was open about his view that the team needed to show more flair on attack.

"We have to look at improving our game, and particularly our attack," said Du Plessis. "The conditions in the UK suited the team’s current style of play. But Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship is played on a quicker pitch and the speed of the games is much quicker, so we need more variation on attack....

"We are without doubt still too one-dimensional. It is important to develop a skills set around the players, and we have players who can offer more (on attack)."

Meyer, meanwhile, was pleased with his first season as Bok coach despite admitting that his team had to dig deep to fight the fatigue in the past few weeks.

He also said if one were to consider all the challenges the team faced, including the long list of injured stars and the limited time they had to prepare for the international season, it was a good year.

"It depends if you look at the glass half full or half empty," Meyer said about his first year at the helm. "And what I’d like to focus on is that we only suffered three defeats, and 80% of those games were against the top four countries in the world.

"But it is outstanding that we only lost three matches (this season) ... we started the year with an inexperienced squad and we were ranked No4 in the world and hopefully we will finish the year in second place.

"And I would have taken that any day, especially with 10 stars out (injured).

"I always knew it was going to be a tough year, especially being a new coach with a new management team," he said.

"But I am proud of these guys. A lot of youngsters put up their hands and we can definitely grow from here. But we have to keep our feet on the ground, plan better (and) work harder (in the future )."