Former Bok coach Jake White says Brendan Venter and Warren Whiteley have transformed the spirit within the national squad.
In his column for AllOutRugby, White claims that Venter's involvement as a new assistant coach and the dawn of Whiteley's reign as captain are two of the key factors that have turned the Springboks' fortunes around in 2017.
'Nothing else has changed since last year – they’ve changed the captain and added an assistant coach, and the team has gone from terrible to winning their first Two tests.
'In one week the perception of the Springboks has gone from gloom to world beaters,' he wrote. 'Suddenly we’ve got combinations that are working and the team looks happy. Happy teams are winning teams, and winning teams are happy teams – it’s a cliché but it’s also a fact.
'There’s no doubt that the influence of Brendan Venter has been immense and Warren Whiteley, whether people like him or not, has got it right.'
White added that there seems to be a completely different message coming out of the Bok camp.
'They’re humble, and they’re not getting ahead of themselves. It’s a very different message to what was coming out last year, and that is commendable. The humility in the Bok camp is good, but what’s happening is that it’s not a team content with just winning. They put their foot on the gas against France and there was a stage in Durban when you thought they could win by 40 points, and that’s fantastic. Something has clicked and you’ve got to build on that.'
White continued to compliment the Boks' combinations, but added that he believes a foreign-based South Africa team could still beat the current national team.
'Looking ahead, I don’t think we have the luxury of trying to be too clever with rotations. We need to keep winning and do whatever we can to keep winning.
'There are no overseas-based players in the starting lineup and the team is winning – that’s a massive bonus. I still believe that an overseas-based SA team could beat the Boks, but there’s something happening in this squad that’s making them fight for that jersey.'
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images