It will have been a fortnight of failure for the Springboks if the All Blacks leave these shores in August with anything more than two losses, according to MARK KEOHANE.
The world champions are set to host New Zealand in Nelspruit (6 August) and Johannesburg (13 August) when the 2022 Rugby Championship kicks off and the tourists will arrive in South Africa smarting from a historic series defeat by Ireland.
The All Blacks had never lost at home against Ireland and in July they did so twice within the space of one week. The discontent that had been simmering since the appointment of Ian Foster as head coach in 2019 bubbled over when his assistant coaches, John Plumtree and Brad Mooar, were axed following the shock loss.
Meanwhile, the Springboks dispatched Wales despite fielding a second-string team in the second of three Tests, and this is the basis of Keohane’s belief that the All Blacks are ripe for the picking.
“The Springboks must play the mediocrity of those who currently wear the famed All Blacks jersey and not be seduced by the historical magic of a black jersey that has dominated world rugby throughout the ages,” Keohane writes.
“I felt Wales had the toughest assignment of the northern-hemisphere teams and Ireland had the easiest, given who they actually played and not being seduced by the history of who they were playing.
“Historically, there is no tougher assignment than the All Blacks in New Zealand but in the context of the current fragility of the men in black and the substandard pedigree of their head coach Ian Foster, this was a series out of kilter with the quality of what the All Blacks have traditionally produced at home.
“As good as the Irish played, this is the worst coached and selected All Blacks match-day squads I have reported on since the game turned professional in 1996. They are imposters of the Mighty McCaw World Champion Class of 2011-2015.”
All the pressure rightly is on @Springboks to deliver a 2-0 home mini-series win against @AllBlacks … Anything less would represent a failed SA fortnight between the game's greatest & rivals. https://t.co/3y6Xv7xfhS
— Mark Keohane (@mark_keohane) July 27, 2022
“By all accounts, the Boks should comfortably beat the All Blacks in both Tests at altitude in SA. Some very strong All Blacks sides have come to SA before and lost to questionable Springbok sides.
“This year, one of the poorest All Black teams in a long time will be flying to SA off the back of a home series loss to Ireland to face a world champion Springbok side which has just won their home series.
“Springbok rugby is in the strongest space it’s ever been, in terms of quality of depth and the systematic blending of experience and youth.
“Eighteen months out from the World Cup, the same players that guided the Springboks to glory have the chance to make an emphatic statement against New Zealand, and remind the rugby world that they are the best individuals in their positions.”