12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
"Hopefully, this is a turning point in Springbok rugby," the coach said as he lauded the character of the side in Saturday's win in Bloemfontein.
"I just have to commend them. To do that, with all the players we had injured, and keep Ireland out in the last five minutes when we were down to 14 men after Schalk's yellow card, showed a lot of character."
"The team also went down 14-11 four minutes into the second half. Most teams of the last couple of years would have said 'there we go'.
"This is a very young team. People forget that. They think it's just another Bok side. Fourie du Preez is 21, Jaque Fourie 20, Schalk Burger 20, Jacques Cronji 21, Pedrie Wannenburg 21."
The youngsters, however, did their coach and country proud with a passionate performance against a powerful Irish side. Stormers star Eddie Andrews was moved to tears during the playing of the national anthem. "For a moment it was overwhelming," he said as the team arrived in Cape Town on Sunday.
"To think of where I stood then and where I had come from... it's been a long road. I was just in awe of the moment. Representing your country is good enough reason to move you to tears.
"As a player making your debut, it's exciting to get a win against a team like Ireland. When things started going our way I could feel the excitement. We felt we had the game and just had to keep it going."
Lock Bakkies Botha, who scored two tries, put it down to work by his team-mates. "Wayne Julies made my first try and the second was thanks to good contesting from Victor Matfield."
"They (Ireland) threw the ball over the top and it landed in my hands. I just finished off," he said.
Botha and Matfield had the better of the world class Irish pair of Malcolm O'Kelly and Paul O'Connell.
"The Irish locks are reputed to be among the best in the world. Victor, Quinton (Davids) and I just said to one another that if you want to be the best you have to beat the best," said Botha.
The second test is at Newlands on Saturday, and the South Africans were at pains to emphasise that all egos were in check. "There are lots of areas we can improve on. We obviously know there is a long road ahead," said Andrews.
By Stephen Nell - The Cape Times.