Former All Blacks boss pinpoints Boks' weaknesses
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: A few Springboks players are simply not good enough for Test rugby says former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains.
Speaking to Stuff, Mains, who coached the All Blacks between 1992 and 1995, said he can’t see the Springboks getting close to victory against the All Blacks in their 100th test match against each other this weekend in Townsville.
Mains’ rebuke of the South Africans comes after the reigning world champions suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Wallabies over the past fortnight.
After returning playmaker Quade Cooper booted the Australians to a 28-26 win on the Gold Coast a little more than a week ago, Dave Rennie’s men outplayed their South African counterparts in impressive fashion at Suncorp Stadium over the weekend.
Playing an enterprising brand of running rugby, the Wallabies secured a 30-17 victory over the Springboks as Len Ikitau and Marika Koroibete both bagged a brace while Taniela Tupou played arguably his best test in the gold and green jersey.
By contrast, the Springboks endured a torrid time defensively as they missed 19 of their 69 tackle attempts and allowed nine clean breaks.
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber labelled the defeat as their worst since their loss to Argentina in 2018.
It leaves the Springboks, whose series win over the British and Irish Lions earlier this year now feels a lifetime ago, with a mountain to climb ahead of their clash with the All Blacks at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday.
According to Mains, that mountain may be too big for the Springboks to overcome as he questioned whether Nienaber has the personnel at his disposal to succeed at Test level.
“I think there are four or five players in that team that simply are not up to Test level, and I think you’ll see that the All Blacks’ three-quarters will run riot against them,” Mains told Stuff on Monday
“The centre and the two wings look simply just not good enough to be playing at that level.
“And, I’d have some questions over one or two of their forwards too. It’s all very well they have big strong props, but boy, they’ve got to be mobile.”
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Mains, who coached the Cats, now known as the Lions, in South Africa during the 2000 and 2001 Super 12 seasons, attributed the Springboks’ decline to their withdrawal from Super Rugby.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, South Africa’s four franchises – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – have transferred from Super Rugby to the United Rugby Championship, formerly the PRO14, which is due to kick-off next weekend.
*READ: The four SA squads
The relocation from the southern hemisphere’s premier club competition to one of Europe’s big three domestic leagues may be an indication of a permanent move north as whispers continue to swirl about the Springboks swapping the Rugby Championship for the Six Nations.
This is in spite of SA Rugby’s decade-long commitment to SANZAAR’s premier international tournament made last year, but Mains issued a warning that the Springboks will continue to struggle against southern hemisphere opponents with increased exposure to European rugby.
“They looked like a team that was just off the pace compared to Australia,” he told Stuff.
“They will come back harder and faster against New Zealand, but they can’t lift that much [in a week].
“They won’t be able to lift it enough to give the All Blacks assuming the All Blacks are as good as they have been, you know, I can’t see South Africa getting close to them with that team.
“I just come back to what I said. They just don’t have the cattle the moment, the world-class players there to actually do a lot about it.”
*Additional reporting: Stuff