CRAIG LEWIS highlights the disparity in experience between the Bok side picked to face the All Blacks this Saturday and those that have tasted success before.
The Springboks have not beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009. In nearly a decade since then, South Africa has managed just two wins over their arch-rivals – both coming on home soil.
While there is understandably very little optimism around the Boks’ chances of pulling off a massive upset over the All Blacks this Saturday, it’s quite revealing to take a closer look at the last three teams that managed to achieve this feat.
The difference between the Bok teams of 2009, 2011, 2014 and that of 2018 is vastly different, and it shines a spotlight on the comparative inexperience of the current starting side picked to play the All Blacks.
Looking back at the 2009 run-on XV that inspired the Boks to a 32-29 victory in Hamilton, South Africa boasted a total of 629 Test caps and an average age of 26.4.
In 2011, a Morné Steyn kicking masterclass carried the Springboks to an 18-5 victory over the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth. That starting team that day had a total of 658 Test caps and an average age of 27.6.
Three years later, a last-gasp, long-distance penalty from Pat Lambie snatched a 27-25 victory for the Boks at Ellis Park. The total Test caps in that starting XV tallied 657, while the average age was 27.
Since then, the two teams have moved almost in polar opposite directions, with the first-placed All Blacks currently sitting 13.17 rankings points ahead of the seventh-placed Springboks in the world standings.
This year, the Boks have effectively started afresh once again, with a largely new-look squad taking shape under a new coaching staff headed up by Rassie Erasmus.
On Thursday, Erasmus named his team to face the All Blacks this Saturday. The starting lineup boasts just 426 Test caps in total, while the average age is 26. There are more than 200 Test caps less than the three previous starting Bok teams that beat the All Blacks.
Below are the lineups of the four teams, with the difference in personnel from then until now putting matters quite firmly in perspective.
For the record, the All Blacks’ starting lineup for Saturday’s Test tallies a total of 755.
Springboks (2009) – 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Springboks (2011) – 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Springboks (2014) – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Springboks (2018) – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
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