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Visitors' 'fallen king' has Dr Du Plessis searching for a remedy

Deep in the bowels of the Aviva Stadium, long after the sell-out crowd had flocked to the local watering holes, Jannie du Plessis was attempting to put a positive spin on a defeat that left the South Africans scratching their heads.

Quite often when players are wheeled out in the mixed zone, you are served the usual yarn but Du Plessis isn't your average speaker.

A qualified doctor, the 31-year-old's analysis of the game gives a clear insight into the mind of a player still trying to come to terms with how the Springboks lost, despite dominating the set-piece.

Of their 15 set-pieces (12 lineouts and three scrums), South Africa didn't lose a single one while they also stole four Irish lineouts and won two scrums against the head.

"It is probably a little like chess in that if you have the most pieces on the board and your queen is creating havoc, you think you are in the box seat but if your king falls you lose the game," Du Plessis stated.

"Whether or not we were good at set-piece makes no difference because we weren't good enough and Ireland played really, really well so congratulations to them.

"Rugby is a team sport so at the end of the day you can have your best performance ever but if the team isn't successful, it's not only bittersweet but really disappointing. Sport is a great leveller and a week in sport is a lifetime."

The step-back in terms of South Africa's intensity was the tighthead prop's main concern but as he was keen to stress, they will have the chance to right the wrongs against England this weekend.

"In life sometimes you are at the top and sometimes at the bottom. One week a hero, the next a zero. It is a bit disheartening to have really played well in the last few Tests and then put up a performance like that.

"It's disappointing that we can't take a step and sort of move up and into another gear but that is a challenge for any team in any sport. We will have to work out why," he added.

The Springboks' struggles with the conditions was an issue that was repeatedly raised by Heyneke Meyer in his post-match assessment and with the World Cup set to take place on this side of the world, they will be anxious to fine-tune their game over the next month.

"It is different conditions. Like I said, a week is a long time in sport so looking forward to the World Cup would not only be foolish but absolutely stupid to get ahead of ourselves.

"A very wise man once said that a good scrum cannot win you a game but a bad scrum can lose you a game. Unfortunately, that is how set-piece works," du Plessis conceded.

"In Super Rugby sometimes we have dominated set-piece and then you have a few ninjas that score four tries. That's part of the game."

So, back to the drawing board then?

"We are a bit bitter because any loss leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Whether it is anger I don't know but it is definitely a s**t feeling. If you play in the Springbok jersey you don't want to have that feeling after a game so we want to fix it."

Whatever about fixing their game plan, Du Plessis' manner in dealing with the media will hopefully never change.

Indo Sport