All Blacks captain Sam Cane has backed his teammates to turn their dismal form around after a 26-10 loss at the hands of South Africa in Nelspruit on Saturday that leaves New Zealand with only one win in their last six matches.
The reversal in the Rugby Championship opener comes off the back of a home series defeat at the hands of Ireland last month and has increased the pressure on coach Ian Foster with little more than a year to go to the Rugby World Cup in France.
The All Blacks were comfortably beaten by the South Africans and scored their only try with the hosts short-handed after Kurt-Lee Arendse was sent off in the 75th minute for a dangerous tackle on Beauden Barrett while the flyhalf was in mid-air.
“The belief is really strong within the group,” Cane told reporters.
“Even with five minutes to go, when the red card came, there was genuine belief. It’s only something you can feel out on the field the group’s belief in ourselves, and what we’re trying to achieve, is very high and when you’ve got that and an attitude to work hard, it’s a good recipe.”
“We’ve just got to stick at it and it will turn. If we didn’t have those things in place, I’d be pretty worried, but the right ingredients are there,” says Cane.
Calls have grown for the dismissal of Foster and wholesale changes to the squad following the demoralising loss, with Cane acknowledging the All Blacks face a major task when they take on the world champions again at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“It’s one of the great challenges in test footy, playing South Africa over here, and the hostility of the crowd and the noise,” he said.
“If anything, and speaking on behalf of a lot of the boys, you love that ‘backs against the wall, us versus them’ and the stadium situation.”
A glimps of action from Saturday’s encounter: