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BOKS OFFICE: 'Ireland's true test will come in July'

Ireland is looking good to wrap up back-to-back Six Nations and Grand Slam titles, sparking claims from the Celtic nations – Ireland and Wales – that the Irish are now the #BEST in the world.

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Boks Office host Hanyani Shimange posed the question to his crew – Springbok legends Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, as well as guest Robbie Fleck.

They appeared dumbfounded by the statement.

De Villiers said it is just someone’s ‘opinion’.

Shimange pointed out that legendary Bok Victor Matfield had the perfect riposte: ‘What have they won?’

That was about Ireland’s inability to progress past the quarterfinals in all 10 editions of the World Cup.

De Villiers said it is a “big statement” to make, given the opposition they are playing in the Six Nations.

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Fleck also had a pointed response.

“They are not playing against quality opposition,” the 48-year-old said.

When asked what he thinks of this year’s Six Nations by Hanyani Shimange, Fleck replied: “Not much, actually.”

The 31-times capped Springbok described the 2024 version of the Six Nations as a ‘one-horse race’..

(The Boks Office team’s takes on claim that Ireland is No.1 in the world …)

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“Pretty disappointing England,” he added.

“You need the traditional guys to be strong.

“France has been disappointing as well.

“So there’s only one team in it, really.

“Patches of brilliance with Scotland – which you always get with Gregor Townsend and the players he selects.

“Finn Russell, Huw Jones and Duhan van der Merwe, they’ve all been good.

“However, there’s no real competition for Ireland, which has been quite frustrating and disappointing, to be honest.

“Everyone talks about the Irish now being No.1 in the world, but they can’t be because they are not playing against quality opposition.

“Yes, we’ll see when they play South Africa in the inbound Tests [in July], but for now the Six Nations has been disappointing in terms of the overall product.

“There’s one really good genuine side in the Irish team and they deserve that.

“They are very well coached, they’ve got quality players, but England have been disappointing, France have been disappointing.”

He added that Wales is a young team, but Fleck questioned if Warren Gatland is the person to rebuild and take Wales forward – despite his track record with Cymru.

The 48-year-old Fleck said he loves the way Ireland plays and praised their systems.

Burger said the real test will be when they visit South Africa in July – for Tests at Loftus Versfeld and Kings Park.

“That will be a proper Test [series] for both teams,” Burger said.

“We all love the way Ireland plays, we love the Leinster play – it is the same.

“How they set up the attack and boss the ball, outwork you.

“The proper Test is coming down here [in South Africa].

“This will be proper.”

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