A leading New Zealand publication has joined the criticism of the Springboks in the wake of back-to-back Rugby Championship losses against the Wallabies, labelling South Africa “unworthy” of their title as world champions.
“The world champions don’t appear to be worthy of the title,” wrote NZ Herald scribe Pat McKendry in response to South Africa following up a 28-26 reverse against the Wallabies in Gold Coast with a 30-17 defeat at the Suncorp Stadium.
“They have been awful in Australia, and there will be many around the world looking on with satisfaction that the Boks’ safety-first game is getting what it deserves.
“The South Africans appear unfit, unskilled and demoralised. Their scrum is inconsistent and their connections between forwards and backs almost non-existent.”
McKendry added that Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende “are playing with all the spark of a teenager in lockdown” while Siya Kolisi “looks lost”, Willie le Roux looks “old” and Faf de Klerk “comes across as a one-trick pony”.
This came hot on the heels of Stuff.co.nz chasing Laurie Mains for quotes and the 75-year-old former All Blacks coach consigned the Boks to a big loss against New Zealand.
McKendry’s NZ Herald colleague, Gregor Paul, pumped the brakes, however, pointing out that “it’s easily forgotten now that when the Springboks came to Wellington in 2018 to play the All Blacks, they did so on the back of successive losses to the Pumas and Wallabies and coach Rassie Erasmus half joked that he would probably be fired if they lost a third straight”.
“They respond to the history and the rivalry and it would be a significant mistake to not realise that the bumbling, uncertain performances of the last two weeks, will not be what the Boks deliver in Townsville.
“They will have too much respect for the occasion – it is the 100th Test between the two nations – and their opponent and while they are a team with obvious tactical and technical limitations, it’s relatively easy to see where they can make quick and decisive improvements.”
Meanwhile, “the heat is coming” warned All Blacks forwards coach John Plumtree, who spent five years in Durban coaching the Sharks.