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Franco Smith, the Springbok backline coach, said the manner in which the South Africans bounce back on Saturday against the Wallabies would demonstrate the character of the current team.

Speaking to media at the team hotel in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, Smith said a vital part of the Springboks’ turnaround strategy this coming weekend will be to prioritise and protect possession against a quality Wallabies side in the Free State capital.

Smith said an analysis of their heavy loss in Albany showed they have to be more accurate when it comes to holding onto the ball.

“To turn it around, we have to ensure we are a factor with ball in hand,” said Smith.

“We have to re-establish our general shape on attack, and to give ourselves the best chances to score by looking after possession, and then we need to convert our opportunities with that try-scoring mentality.”

The Wallabies will pose a huge challenge at the high altitude venue in Bloemfontein and Smith reckons the Springboks have to be very clear in their approach on Saturday.

“Ultimately, it’s not about taking risks, it’s about taking responsibility – if we don’t increase our tempo and accuracy with ball in hand, then we’re not going to get across the line,” said Smith.

According to Smith, the Springboks are working hard in training and everyone is looking forward to the weekend’s big contest: “The players are so determined and hungry to make it right, we’ve actually had to reign them in at training. So as a coach, it’s not going to be difficult to motivate this group on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, the Springboks have released three players back to their provinces for Currie Cup and Pro14 duties this coming weekend.

Dan du Preez and S’busiso Nkosi will return to Durban on Tuesday evening to join up with the Cell C Sharks, while wing Raymond Rhule will re-join the Toyota Cheetahs and is available for Guinness PRO14 selection.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will announce his match 23 on Thursday at 14h00 during a press conference at the team hotel in Bloemfontein.

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