Cape Town - The Springboks arrived in Australia on August 27, which is 36 days ago, so it would be fully understandable that after five weeks Down Under, they are longing for home.
Losing three Tests in a row hasn’t helped matters either, with two two-point defeats and a 13-point loss.
And the barrage of criticism from the media and fans alike could easily make the Boks feel disillusioned at this point.
Fans have let out their frustration on social media, with one of the popular memes being a photo of a bruised foot that supposedly resembles Faf de Klerk’s – due to all his box-kicks.
Captain Siya Kolisi understands the unhappiness, but hopes that the Boks can repay the faith with a victory in the final Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks on Saturday.
“Some guys read, and some guys don’t read the stuff on social media. Some can handle it, some can’t handle it. But people are passionate about rugby in our country, and we can’t get upset at that,” the 30-year-old said on Friday.
“People are allowed to have their own opinions, and people are hurting – people were happy with us, and now they’re upset and disappointed. It’s good for us… It’s obviously not good, what we are going through right now, losing three games in a row.
“But people care, that’s the thing. People care, and this team means different things to different people. And I can’t get upset at that – I’m also a fan. I watch my favourite sporting team, and I get upset. I also forget that… I get emotional and react in different ways.
“So, I can’t get upset when people do that. I support Liverpool and Kaizer Chiefs! It is tough – we get it from people who know us, friends and family are also hurting. So, it’s understandable. It hurts me too – we’re here and playing on the field, and we’re playing the whole time to try and win the games.
“When we lose, it’s tough on us. We understand what people are going through – we can’t get upset at that. All we are doing now, we just keep on working. We went back after the game – what could we have done? What did we leave out there? How many opportunities could’ve been taken?
“You look at the game and you see like, ‘Yes, we could’ve done that, we could’ve done better there. Our discipline, if it was better… If we didn’t give away so many penalties’… All those kinds of things, and then we work again, and that’s what we did this week.
“All we can control tomorrow is our discipline, what we do, and our attitude – going in and giving it the best we can.”
South African Super Rugby teams often complained about those four-week trips to Australia and New Zealand, with the last game of the tour particularly difficult to be motivated for.
But Kolisi was adamant that his players don’t have one foot on the plane already, as they want to end off the tour in style against the All Blacks on Saturday (12.05pm SA time kickoff).
They were certainly up for it physically in the 19-17 loss to New Zealand in Townsville last weekend, and the No 6 flank expects more of the same at the Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday – although he did admit that the defeats had affected the players.
“We’re fine. Our trainings are proper – we’re doing the things we want on the field. On Saturday, I thought we brought the intensity, and I think we just didn’t take our opportunities that were in front of us. But physically, we go again. Of course we miss our families and everything, but we are here to do a job, and we knew what we signed up for before we even got on to the plane,” Kolisi said.
“We’re fine – trainings have been on point. And when we played in the game… we lost in the last two minutes. So, I thought our intensity was good in the game, and this week as well, preparation was really good.
“Obviously the moods are down because we are losing the whole time, so that dampens the mood more than anything else. We don’t think about how long we’ve been here… Maybe it does, I don’t know – maybe it plays a thing in your mind. But our focus is to make sure that we finish this tour strongly, and that’s why we are here.
“There are so many players who would love this opportunity to be here right now. There are guys who have been here the whole time and haven’t played a single game. So, I don’t have the right to complain and moan, because guys are training week-in week-out, standing there and showing us pictures, and not getting the opportunity to play.
“So, it would be very selfish of me to think about myself. People at home as well are supporting us, and we have a responsibility because we agreed before we left on the plane. We knew what the terms and conditions were, so we’re fine and the intensity has been good in training. Hopefully it can show tomorrow in the game.”