The Boks have set off for Japan as they look to capture the Rugby World Cup. Photo: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
Former national captain Warren Whiteley believes the Springboks have ticked every box and stand as good a chance as anyone of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy at the World Cup in Japan.

The tournament kicks off in three weeks’ time, on September 20, with the Boks in Pool B alongside Canada, Italy, Namibia and defending champions New Zealand, who they face in their opening game on Saturday, September 21 (11.45am SA time kick-off).

Whiteley, who led the Boks on two occasions in 2017 and has played in 23 Tests, missed out on selection after failing to recover from a knee injury.

He said the “meticulous planning” by coach Rassie Erasmus and his management team ensured the Boks would be in prime condition for the tournament.

“They’ve ticked every box,” said Whiteley this week.

“It’s been a phenomenal year and amazing build-up to the tournament with the team winning the Rugby Championship.

“It’s been great to see how well some players who’ve been brought in from afar have performed, but also the younger guys, like Herschel Jantjies, who’ve contributed so much.

“The Boks have got as good a chance as any one of three, four, five teams... they’ve got a real shot at winning this.”

Whiteley said Erasmus and company had come up with a game plan that suited Bok rugby in a tournament like the World Cup.

“The type of rugby the guys are playing suits the squad. In a World Cup there’s a certain type of rugby that’s successful and the Boks are playing it. It’s more of a lower risk brand, but not that they don’t take some risks when the opportunity is there. It’s lower risk when compared to a team like New Zealand.

“The whole game is based on putting pressure on the opposition through a strong defence and the guys have done that well this year.

“They’re kicking well, with a good chase, and in defence the guys are coming off the line hard and fast, putting the opposition under pressure. The set-piece is also phenomenal, the scrum and line-out is as solid as you can get, and they’ve dominated in the Rugby Championship.

“In terms of preparation, Rassie and his team could not have done more, or better.”

@jacq_west


Saturday Star