A Bok flag on the perimeter of the cordoned area for the fans. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
A Bok flag on the perimeter of the cordoned area for the fans. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Pundits fancy Boks’ world cup chances in Japan

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Sep 21, 2019

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Johannesburg - Kobus Wiese is under no illusion about the mammoth task that lies ahead for the Springboks.

He was part of the 1995 Springbok World Cup-winning team. And Wiese knows the challenges and struggles that come with winning rugby’s most prestigious trophy.

“It takes years of hard work and sacrifice. You need a good balance of youth and experience in the team. You also need to be on form during the World Cup. Reputations don’t win World Cups, players do.”

The former Bok lock was a starter in the Cup final in 1995 when the Boks defeated the All Blacks 15-12 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg to win the Webb Ellis Cup.

“It’s very simple. The best in-form players and teams will get to the finals. You need to use the opportunities on the day. And most importantly, the squad has to have the desire to win it.”

So does Rassie Erasmus’ men have what it takes to go all the way in Japan? Wiese certainly believes so.

“They have a very realistic chance of getting to the final. They are one of the favourites along with New Zealand, England, Ireland, Wales, and France.

The Boks kick off their World Cup campaign today in Yokohama against the All Blacks.

“It’s always tight games when these two teams face off. It could be a big decider, a trendsetter. History has shown in all World Cups that no team that didn’t win their pool went on to win the World Cup. So it’s imperative that the Springboks get off to a good start.” While Wiese has confidence in the squad that Erasmus has chosen, there are a couple of changes he would have made.

“I’m 80% happy. I wouldn’t have played the tighthead, Frans Malherbe. I don’t think he is on form at the moment.”

“There is also a big question mark over Makazole Mapimpi’s defence. I would have played S’bu Nkosi on the wing, simply because he’s in better form, stronger, and is a good finisher.”

“Also, I think Lukhanyo Am is a good centre, but he needs somebody who’ll be able to create gaps for him and allow him opportunities on the side.

“I would have played Frans Steyn at 12.

“He’s got the ability to create space for his outside backs,” said Wiese.

Legendary former Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha believes the team have peaked at just the right time.

“They’re playing some good rugby, had some good preparation and have had good results in the last year.”

Botha says he is impressed with Erasmus’ work with the team so far. “The whole unit is working well together.

“The coaching staff are doing a good job. I still believe they can be a little more adventurous in the midfield. We have a fantastic squad. We are sitting with one of the two best flyhalves in world rugby.”

“We are doing well in scenarios like scrums and line-outs. Our defence also looks really good, so it’s a nice World Cup to look forward to.”

While the Boks are among the favourites to win this year’s World Cup, Botha believes there are plenty of other challengers.

Former Bok skipper Corné Krige believes the team’s biggest test will be against the All Blacks: “If we get through it well, it will be a great confidence booster.

“Rassie has picked a great squad, and there are no surprises. I think Damian Willemse was unlucky... but otherwise we have our strongest team.”

Saturday Star

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