Former British & Irish Lions and England flyhalf Stuart Barnes says France would “flatten” the Springboks if the World Cup was to be held today.
Writing in his regular column for the Times UK, Barnes said that while the Springboks have “the most potent pack in rugby” and “brilliant backs”, the team is “enslaved” to the style in which they beat England in the 2019 World Cup final.
Barnes’ criticism comes on the back of the Springboks’ hard-fought 2-1 home series victory over Wales and as the South Africans prepare for the Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand in Nelspruit next weekend, one of two successive home fixtures against the All Blacks.
“The recent 2-1 series win against Wales should be the wake-up call that was delayed in 2021 as the British & Irish Lions played poor man’s Springbok rugby,” wrote Barnes.
“Against Wales, there was a deficiency at No 8, No 9 and No 10 – the most important decision-makers on the field.
“Jasper Wiese is one hell of a wrecking ball but there’s insufficient subtlety to his game. At scrumhalf, there remains a complete reliance on Faf de Klerk.
“[Elton Jantjies] had a career-killing first Test against Wales. He’s gifted but lacks the temperament to be a Test No 10. He has had more than his share of opportunities.
“Handre Pollard is first choice; the man who was third choice for Montpellier for much of the French season. He can carry – he’s a powerful flyhalf – but his game has faded into a world where his first thought is kick, usually high and across field, second is the same. Third choice – kick anywhere. The once brilliant flyhalf and the 2022 version are similar in name only.
“South Africa might still dominate territory and possession, as they did against Wales, but without the direction at 8, 9, 10 to turn these attributes into wins.”
Photo: Twitter: @Springboks