Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains has launched a scathing attack on the Springboks, who he predicts will be no match for New Zealand in the 100th Test between the sides this coming Saturday.
Mains, who played 15 Tests for the All Blacks between 1971 and 1976 and later coached New Zealand from 1992 to 1995, has questioned whether “four or five” of the Springboks are good enough to play at the highest level, while also saying South Africa potentially breaking away from the Rugby Championship to join the Six Nations would be a huge mistake for the defending world champions.
Mains’ swipe at the Springboks comes following their two straight Test defeats by the Wallabies in Gold Coast and Brisbane, respectively.
“I think there’s 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.
“They just don’t have the cattle the moment, the world-class players there to actually do a lot about it.
“South Africa, sure they had the Tests against the Lions but they didn’t have that really tough Super Rugby programme that brings players up to a level where you either make it or you don’t.
“It’s a bit of a war of attrition, Super Rugby, but it certainly leaves the players in really good condition.”
With the South African franchises already skipping Super Rugby to join the United Rugby Championship in Europe from this season, the 75-year-old Mains warned the Boks against following suit to go play in the Six Nations.
“That discussion will be happening in South Africa. They looked like a team that was just off the pace compared to Australia.
“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 mean, in rugby today with the high skill levels and variation of tactics, and everything that goes with it, it is extremely hard for a team that is lacking in ability to compete with a team that’s got a lot of ability.”
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