The Springboks need to turn things around – and fast.
The reigning world champions have suffered back-to-back losses to Australia in the past fortnight, but it was their performance in a 30-17 loss on Saturday night that was cause for concern.
The pace of the game and the pressure applied by the Australians caused plenty of problems for the Springboks, not helped by players falling off tackles and being ineffective defensively in a performance coach Jacques Nienaber dubbed their worst since their 32-19 loss to Argentina in August 2018.
Now, as they eye two tests against the All Blacks to end their Rugby Championship campaign, Nienaber said his side have to race the clock to address the situation.
"We were truly beaten. I think in every department, we got hands down beaten in everything," Nienaber said of the loss to the Wallabies.
"From a defensive viewpoint, we need to change; just do things better. I think the last time we conceded four or more tries was against New Zealand in 2018. This is not something we're normally used to in a game. We will have to go and have a good look at it, but I thought our one-on-one defence was poor. We missed too many tackles. It's not something I can put my finger on, so we will have to have a look at that.
"From an attack point of view, we will have to review all our systems and have a look and see what went wrong – kicking games, defence and attack. We'll have to, in a very short time, have a good look at it."
This season is the first time the Springboks have met Australia and New Zealand since 2019, missing out on last year's Rugby Championship – which was played as a Tri Nations tournament instead – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While they have had tests against the British and Irish Lions and Argentina already this year, the style of play which Australia implemented seemed to be a shock to the system for the Springboks – which doesn't bode well as they now look towards their meetings with the All Blacks.
Throughout the Rugby Championship, a high tempo has been a key feature of the All Blacks' attack, with a host of players who are capable of both breaking the game open or making plays for the teammates.
Nienaber said he knows his side are in for a challenge in the week ahead as they prepare for the world No 1 All Blacks in Townsville, but was able to find a small silver lining in their tour.
"It's not positive, but the nice thing is it's nice to play against our Sanzaar brothers again," Nienaber said.
"You get tested differently. For us, it's a big eye-opener in terms of that, and that's how big the challenge will be against New Zealand – it's going to be a massive challenge."
Text by Christopher Reive, NZ Herald