Ireland are the No 1-ranked side on the planet but a fired-up Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the 2022 Rugby Championship will reveal the “best team in the world” this season.
The world champion Boks are third in the official world rankings after beating Wales 2-1 in the Republic in July, while Ireland’s series victory over the fourth-placed All Blacks had them overtake Six Nations winners France at the summit.
“The honest truth, probably in the next three games, you will be able to tell who is the best team in the world,” said Stick in the build up to the Rugby Championship opener between the Springboks and All Blacks at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
“I know a lot of people are talking about the northern-hemisphere sides being the best in the world [but] they’re at the end of their season – they’re finished – and probably got five games more than us.
“I don’t doubt that over the next three weeks the [world rankings] log will change, which is something we don’t normally stress about but it’s been hyped out there that the All Blacks aren’t the best team in the world anymore, the Springboks aren’t the best team in the world anymore.
“But I can guarantee you now that in the next three to four weeks things will change and a southern-hemisphere team will be No 1 in the world.”
He added: “To be able to play against the All Blacks, who have been dominating southern-hemisphere rugby for a while, that’s where you measure yourself.
“We really want to have a good follow-up from where we left things against Wales in Cape Town.”
The Springboks will open a four-match, year-end tour itinerary with a sold-out Test against Ireland in Dublin on 5 November.
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