CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes that though South Africa have made huge strides in their performances, the All Blacks remain way ahead of the chasing pack in world rugby.
Despite South Africa's two recent victories over England, Erasmus says they are still well off the pace the New Zealanders are setting. South Africa beat England 42-39 in the first Test and 23-12 in the second. As a result, they are starting to climb the rankings from the seventh place they held up to fifth, one place ahead of England.
"Our kicking game has come on and tactically we are getting better in terms of the balance between attack and defence. But we are way off the pace compared to New Zealand," Erasmus told the rugby media in Cape Town. They are due to meet the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship in Wellington on September 15 and in Pretoria on October 6.
Erasmus said the Springboks were much more confident with the ball in hand in their three Tests so far this year and said that was down to the work started by his predecessor, Allister Coetzee. When Coetzee called all South Africa's professional coaches together and discussed with them the need for improved skill levels and training that had been the start of the recovery.
"I have got no doubt that the players are better equipped to attack. Without a doubt, the skill level on attack is better and we are fortunate that Allister started that process last year," Erasmus said.
The Springboks were also showing the benefits of having been through tough times in recent years and were applying the lessons learned this year. "Teams have to go through different pressure situations, which are sometimes good and sometimes bad," Erasmus said.
"There are always things to be learnt for players in terms of understanding the coach, and the assistant coaches or for the coaches when dropping players and making big decisions. So there is definitely a much better understanding of the way we work and the way we want to work from a few weeks ago. But we still haven't gelled properly and there have been some hiccups along the way."
African News Agency (ANA)