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Springbok coach Peter de Villiers praised his captain, John Smit, for “regrouping” the team after a loose start in their 87-0 whitewash of Namibia in Albany on Thursday.

The Boks started well and surged to a 10-0 lead before making a series of uncharacteristic errors as they struggled in the first half against their lowly opponents.

But while Namibia frustrated them to keep them to a 31-0 scoreline at the break, the Boks came back in the second half and were clinical, not conceding a point and running in a dozen tries as they set up the big victory.

Even though the victory wasn’t as big as in 2009, when the Boks triumphed 105-13 in Cape Town, coach De Villiers was more than satisfied with the performance, and especially with Smit’s ability to call the players together when things started to get loose on the field.

“I’m really pleased with what we achieved today. We stuck to our game plan after getting a bit loose at the beginning. John got the team to regroup well and got them back on track and the game was great,” De Villiers said.

But De Villiers was mildly perturbed when a New Zealand journalist suggested that a better team would have punished the Boks’ indiscretions and mistakes on a night that was perfect for rugby.

“In a perfect world such things would happen. We’re in a tournament where the best 20 teams in the world are here and if you only want your way it won’t go your way,” he said.

“We started off loose but regrouped well. I was very proud of the guys and if we were playing another team then we would have done things differently. Maybe we would have made other mistakes against another team.”

Captain Smit said the Boks were lulled into playing a game much less conservatively than they wanted to at the start but was happy they had regained their focus and were clinical in the victory.

Boks ran riot against their neighbours

However, Smit said the Boks were now looking forward to two days without any rugby as they take time off before regrouping on Sunday to face Samoa in their final pool game.

“We need a bit of a change now, we’ve been here for three weeks and we need to take a step back for one or two days,” Smit said. “We will be back to regroup on Sunday and have been practicing hard and working hard on the field.”De Villiers praised Bryan Habana’s try-scoring record, as he surpassed Joost van der Westhuizen to become the top try scorer in Springbok history with 39 tries, but warned that it had little significance in the team’s focus.

“John (Smit) also became the most capped Springbok today, but records don’t bother this group. If they don’t fit in with the team goals, then we don’t want them. We will rejoice tonight at this record but no more than that.”

The Boks move back to Taupo on Friday for a week before returning to the same venue to face Samoa in their final pool outing.

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