The wounded Springboks believe they can still win the Rugby World Cup despite the humiliation inflicted by the defeat at the hands of Japan, star flanker Francois Louw said.
“Our backs are against the wall right now,” said Louw, one of the few players to come out of the 34-32 defeat with any credit.
“We have three tough games ahead of us. We are not going to underestimate any team in the World Cup. I don’t think we ever did.”
But the 30-year-old added: “Losing a game doesn’t mean you are down and out.”
And Louw, who scored one of the Springboks four tries which at least garnered them a bonus point, was defiant, in the face of the sceptics, when asked whether South Africa believed they could win their third World Cup in England.
“I think we are in a position where we have to feel confident about that,” he replied at a press conference late Monday.
“We need to pull together. We know what needs to be done. I believe we have the ability to pull back together, to pull tight, to look forward and deflect any negativity.”
Players and coaches say the Springboks have carefully analysed what went wrong in the dramatic Pool B game in Brighton on Saturday decided by a try in the dying seconds.
After the biggest upset in World Cup history, South Africa have vowed to come roaring back in their game against Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday.
“There are six games left all the way to the final. We’ll take each game as it comes and this week our focus is on Samoa,” said Louw.
“We need to pull together. We know what needs to be done. I believe we have the ability to pull back together, to pull tight, to look forward and deflect any negativity.
“We’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block. It’s time to regroup and pull together in a positive way. Our focus is to climb the pool and finish top.
“It’s still in our hands, still in our grasp to go through the pool games and qualify for the play-offs.
South African hooker Bismarck du Plessis — who like Louw scored a try — also revealed how the team has put the shock of defeat behind them.
“I don’t think you can stay angry for too long,” said Du Plessis, who was a member of the Springbok side that won the 2007 World Cup.
“I have never been on a more quiet bus than the one from Eastbourne to Birmingham, 99.9 per cent of the guys were just listening to their own music, or reading the newspaper or reading a book. You have to deal with it yourself first.”
But the mood has changed, the 31-year-old added.
“The nice thing is the sun comes up again. You have to stay positive and stay focused for the weekend. You can’t go out and have that anger in you. You have just got to stick to your process.”