Durban - With 162 days to go until the start of the 2023 World Cup in France, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi feels his team is better placed than they were when they won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019.
The Boks went into that World Cup with just one season of rugby together after Rassie Erasmus took over as Springbok coach from Allister Coetzee at the beginning of 2018.
That ambulance job could not have been more successful and although Kolisi’s team subsequently missed two years of rugby due to the pandemic, they are a more experienced unit now than in 2019.
“I think we are in a better place,” Kolisi reflected at a press conference ahead of the Sharks’ Heineken Cup match on Saturday against Munster.
“Our coaching staff is always letting us know where we are or if we are falling behind, or where they want you to go,” he said of the ongoing process to get the Bok players ready for France.
“They are always there to say this is not good enough or this is good and you are on the right track.
“Even though you're doing everything for your province, they still reach out to ask, Can this be done better?', because they are looking at it from an international level.
“We just had a few alignment camps and what I love about them is the evaluation of where we are now. The coaches]have watched the progress in what we do and where we need to be. We measure ourselves against ourselves, but also against the best in the world.
“But I think we still have a lot to do as a team. The most important thing for us as players is to work on getting into the team because nobody is guaranteed a place.
The Boks are in the toughest half of the World Cup draw. Pool B compromises South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania. And if they get through the pool they will encounter either New Zealand or France in the quarter-finals
“At the end of the day, you have to play the best to win the World Cup — it doesn’t matter what you do. I think it’s a positive if you can come out of a group like that and also through the quarterfinals.
“It is what it is and it's about how you embrace it.”