Will our boks be fit and mentally ready for the World Cup?

Forum » Rugby » Will our boks be fit and mentally ready for the World Cup?

Jan 06, 2023, 13:11

It was 1995 and SA was hosting the 1995 World Cup. No one gave them a chance and who could blame them given the type of rugby the boks played and that they weren't able to dominate rugby like they use to. Wins were very scarce to come by. 

We all know the rest, but one thing that stood out was listening to Joel Stransky sharing a conversation he had with Christie. He asked will it be skill that would enable them to win the World Cup, but the response was fitness. They would train on golf course and they just kept doing fitness drills. 

Fast forward to 2023, almost every single professional player today could easily compete with the 95 players and probably beat them if a game were to happen today. The game has moved on and players are in supreme condition. However, we saw what happens when players are out for a while and how hard it is to adjust to the pace of the game. Elton Jantjies and a mare, Duane Vermeulen got brought in after being out for 3 months, it all had a massive impact on the team if one player was injured. We saw Bongi Struggle and the infamous bomb squad falling short when they had come on in the 30th min to remove the quota players as they couldn't hold the line for long enough. 

I have no idea how we will be fit enough for this World Cup. Will we select players out of form but there on reputation. 

Just looking at the remaining season and where most of our players are based. Those in Europe and the URC will struggle to get any decent match rest. They may be rested for a game or two, but this is not the case for Willemse. 

Don't forget all the travelling. I think the boks are now 9 trips in so far in the last 12 months. 

The only gap I can see for the boks to rest or have some form of training camp is during the 6 nations where there will only be derbies, but it dilutes the game at home as the fans won't be able to watch the boks play. 

It is a mess and I don't know how they are going to prepare. Given the last Club game is in June, 6 test matches and then the World Cup. 

Our only saving grace is the fact that we have about 5 to 6 boks playing in Japan that will be well rested and ready to go but may need match sharpness as they finish their season in May.

How would you prepare the boks, when should boks be kept out of games, what happens when teams reach the play-offs and final?

Jan 06, 2023, 13:23

I've been pointing to a decline in fitness for a few years now. Compare the fitness levels of the 2018 Boks to now, and you'll see a sharp decline. A core group needs to be protected and conditioned, and we really do need to work hard on our patterns. Something of a reset is needed. I don't think this team really understands what they really are, and how dire they really have been. Erasputin seems to have them under a spell. There are too many players who are coasting, buying into early hype before they have even done anything remotely praise worthy. Before anything is done, the right mix of players need to be selected. Why is it that Kwagga, by far our best performer, can't get into the starting XV? We've had teams in the past that could cope without a star player or two being selected, this is not one of those Bok teams. It's a fine line to tread. I understand there are many who still believe this is the best team in the world. The reality is that it's not, and it's regressing fast. 

Jan 06, 2023, 17:26

Yup, when will the guys get a proper break. 

Jan 06, 2023, 17:32

We will be ready...fitness and mental fitness...it's Rassie's best attribute...the man plans EVERYTHING to the finest detail. 

Jan 09, 2023, 18:41

I read that the boks would be rested during Feb and March when the URC takes a break or SA, would be playing local Derby matches spread out. I think that would be great given that our local boks probably would be frazzled by that stage from all the travelling. 

I'm not so sure how the franchises would take it though given that the likes of the Saarks and Boools have ponied up some series cash. Stormers also splashed out on Damian. So how can the teams rest the key boks and still be fair to all of the SA franchises and give them equal opportunity. 

Saarks may have to rest

  1. Ox
  2. Bongi
  3. Thomas
  4. Etzebeth
  5. Kolisi
  6. Hendrikse 
  7. Am
  8. Mpimpi 
  1. Louw
  2. Van Staden 
  3. Arendse
  4. Moody
  1. Kitshoff
  2. Dweeb
  3. Malherbe
  4. Roos
  5. Libbok
  6. Willemse
Lions - No boks or any player of note

It doesn't look like that much given that we probably have about 8 players in Japan that would actually be well conditioned and rested, but probably just need a bit of game time to get rid of rustiness. 
  1. Marx
  2. Mostert
  3. Lood
  4. Kwagga
  5. De Klerk
  6. Kriel
  7. De Allende
  8. Le Roux
Eng / France / Ire
  1. Koch
  2. Wiese
  3. Pollard
  4. Kolbe 
  5. Reinach
  6. Gelant
  7. Nyakane 
Looking at this list, I think we would be okay with our SA and Japan based boks, but not so sure about our European based boks as the French play a lot of Rugby, the Prem continues during the 6 nations 

Well, Rassie was able to win the Championship by splitting his team and targeting key games to win. 

There are 5 test left this year. Aus, Arg x 2, NZ x 2. It would be interesting to see if they pick a minnow team to get the players match sharp. 

Jan 09, 2023, 19:28


Jan 09, 2023, 19:28


Jan 09, 2023, 19:28


If there is one thing that Erasmus and Nienaber will never do and that is to select players  that has not played rugby on any level for up to 18 months or played in one test where they failed.   In fact the 2015 squad had 8 unplayable players and that cases some players not to be without rest matches.

The one thing most people missed in 2018 was that Ersmus tried out players who have enver played in tests before.    In the Wales test in 2018 he had five players with test experience and the rest of the 23 never played for the Springboks before.   Based on what happened in that game he carried on with the process and gave some players more chances.   In the end the failures and players with deficient abilities never made the WC squad.

There is a similarity between the methods used in 2018 and 2023 missed by many members on site.  I think aside from the  official test there are going to be two additional tests played to sharpen the team before the series really started.    

Looking at the players who played in tests this year and looking at the injury record and performance of even established players may put them out of contention for selection anyway.    I do not think Vermeulen and Jantjies for instance would be in the squad again.   Players like Esterhuizen had zero chance to be included as well.

There is one advantage Erasmus and Nienaber has over previous SA coaches in WC series and that is they are not undermined by selection committees.    You seem to be worried about players - but I think there are already a core of 15 players identified that will be in the 31 man WC squad.   It must also be borne in mind that the 31 squad membership will cate for -

*     3 flyhalfs;

*     3  scrummies

*     6  props

*     3 hookers

*     5 loosies

*     3 locks 

That leaves 8 backline vacancies and 1 forward position. 

It is interesting to follow the performances of potential flyhalfs.   If you look at the above it would be interesting to follow the performances of the players in the various positions -especially those who are not established players.    Take for instance Pollard has had injury problems and in his last few matches he played in he was sub-standard.   Nobody would come out at this stage as certain selections.    

There is one thing that is not available to us as members of this site at all - but involved the activities of individual players during matches.    Erasmus and especially Jones are really academic in dealing with that info.   They do not look at individual efforts - they follow every player in detail and record everything that player did when on the field of play.   That is why some players who the public support all-out may not make the squad.    


Jan 09, 2023, 19:28


Jan 09, 2023, 19:47

We play one game apiece against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina in the RC. Then two friendlies: Wales, New Zealand. Winning the RC in 2019 had very little to do with any strategy. Essentially, Esterhuizen was reserved for the Wallabies, and totally shut down the attack against the worst Wallabies in 45 years (at that time). The game against NZ was a little fortuitous, and Argentina didn't pitch up. The Wallabies and Kiwis are so poor right now, that I really wouldn't be concerning myself with anything other than the implementation of a total overhaul of the gameplan. Weak opposition are good for testing these systems under reasonable duress. 

Jan 09, 2023, 20:28

 Do you understand anything about rugby and the modern technology to study activities of individual players in matches - the players cannot hide anything.   The stories you came up with have huge holes in it and cover your impression based on prejudice.   You have no comprehensive stats available for evaluation purposes as well,    Esterhuizen has not a snowballs hope in hell of being in the WC squad if his usage in the tests last year is borne in mind.  

You have no idea about game plan and implementation and it si really laughable to read your BS on site,   

The technology at present in use was available to Meyer in 2014 as well.    He never used it since it was way above his capacity level when it came to team selections.            

Jan 09, 2023, 21:50

Everything I say comes directly from footage. There is no lie, no prejudice, no false impressions. You are perpetually dragged kicking and screaming to game footage and you have no answers for the endless lump of tripe you spew. I absolutely believe that Esterhuizen will never start another test ever again because I have complete confidence in the stupidity of Erasputin. 

Jan 09, 2023, 22:09

The Wallabies and Kiwis are so poor right now.

Are the Boks any better?

A poor AB side still screwed the Boks at Joberg.

Underestimate NZ at your own peril at the world cup.........

One year out from the world cup is never a reflection of what actual takes place at folowing world cups.

Jan 09, 2023, 22:21

To be fair - Under Foster the AB's have been bloody hopeless to the point that the prick should have been taken outside and shot.

Now that he has had his arse kicked others are having a bigger influence - We have our forward pack back and we could win the world cup even with carrying foster as a liability.

Jan 09, 2023, 22:29

Before the last world cup South Africa were a joke - But they still managed to win in 2019.

And thank god they screwed England.

Our women have proved that things can be turned around very, very quickly.

I think the teams to beat at the world cup will be:

South Africa - Because they have a lot of room for improvement

New Zealand - because they of all teams have been fucking around and no where near their potential

Australia - They will have learned the lessons of 2022.

England - Because I think they will be fired up with the new coach.

I suspect Ireland will again fall over as they have peaked far to early.

France have peaked and will fall over because they won't handle the pressure.


Jan 10, 2023, 02:26

It will be interesting to see what teams are selected during the 6 nations and whether they will go all out or try a few more combinations. 

The 6n teams have enough time to recover but also lay down a marker. So I don’t think they’ll hold back. It is only the championship that becomes useless as it is really close to the WC and it is players last chance to make a point. But, I have very little hope in how the boks were selected in 2022. We had Dweeb disaster, them Vermeulen, them Jantjies, Willemse at 10 or no goal kicker that Faf and Kolbe started to kick. We only saw the form players towards the end of the year. Libbok and Roos had a crack and actually beat England at home. 

Pollard won’t be ready, Willemse is not playing at 10 right now and who knows where Jantjies is right now and which poles his sticking his balls through. 

I would have like to see more of Libbok and hope he would have 10 games by now. 

Goosen is not there yet but starting to come into form now. 

Just felt the coaches had complete brain farts last year

Jan 10, 2023, 11:13

The new players of 2022 were for the most part unsuccessful. All we saw was the usual: If you give them open space, they can run straight. It was essentially just throwing spaghetti at the wall. A few little gimmicks, the usual Erasputin contribution. He got a good response from the media in SA over the sliding second layer on the EOYT, which worryingly may encourage him. 

@Black&Red: The New Zealanders found some combinations. They found some fluency in the backs, refined the tactics a bit and have a front row. 

Jan 10, 2023, 12:50

l'Grande Merde

Your deductions of what happen in matches is so distorted it really is a joke.   Most of your comments are based on prejudicial jokes with no substance at all.   You could not answer anything yet about the BS you came up with as to backline attacking rugby under Meyer - who himself claimed that the Springbok backline players do not have the necessary ball skills to play a ball-in-hand attacking game.   Meyer did not have a clue about backline coaching - same as Jake White - so how could the Springbok backlines under them could play attacking backline rugby with them as coaches?       

Jan 10, 2023, 13:13

Jake and Meyer are irrelevant to the here and now. Erasputin has not developed the Boks from the Coetzee era. As per the details of Jake and White? I have put forward more than you will ever be able to deal with. Michael, you don't have a hope in hell of being able to refute anything. You are wrong, and the more you lie to try and conceal that errancy, the worse it'll be for you. The only functional attacks (attacking rugby is not a backline thing exclusively, that's a common fallacy in SA) since 1999 have been in the Jake and Meyer eras.

Jan 10, 2023, 13:21

Mike, you are right about Meyer and White that the boks didn't have decent attack from their backline, but how on earth did Habana score so many tries then? 

The boks had fantastic big and athletic backs ie Jean de Villiers and Jacque Fourie, but I agree that I was so frustrated watching Jean just smash it up. Under Piet helium they just kicked the ball away. So much for his total rugby. The main problem for years was that SA coaches didn't like playing high risk rugby. If the pass goes behind the player it leads to counter attacking tries. 

However, we watch the school boys play and you see all the backline skills they have and never see it at provincial level. It just gets coached out of them. 

Rassie will rather have a stepper that can dance his way around then trying to put together some decent backline moves. 

Also look at who the bok coaches use on Attack. Stick is our current backline coach, need I see more. 

The boks only started to show their true ability when Eddie joined White and transformed our attacking play. 

To my mind when it comes to backline skill, Australia have always been right up there, then New Zealand. France on a good day. 

Ireland have got some great shapes and deception and really stepped it up. 

England under Eddie  was too undecided with his backlines and it showed as he was caught in between two minds and not able to settle on combinations. 

I think the days of playing two 10s in your 10 12 axis are over. Modern game demands a strong battering ram at 12. 

Jordy Barrett looks really promising at 12 and has the potential to be the complete modern day 12. 

Dud has his advantages, but boy does he piss me off with his poor passing and brainless kicks. 

In SA, Esterhuizen has matured and should be our first choice 12. 

Willemse is still a utility player, great player, but as the saying goes. Jack of all trades, master of none. I still think Fullback is where he belongs. Especially getting shown up at 12 this weekend by Huw Jones was a real eye opener. When have we seen line breaks in that channel like on Saturday

Jan 10, 2023, 13:31

Mike, you are right about Meyer and White that the boks didn't have decent attack from their backline, but how on earth did Habana score so many tries then? 

Don't go down that path Korn, it'll only end in tears. Meyer's Boks were lightyears ahead of what we have now. A highly efficient gameplan, a fluid gameplan. Jake's Boks were excellent. To suggest otherwise is foolish, and quite easily debunked - as has been the case with Michael. 

Jan 10, 2023, 16:35

We can never be Fit enough, and sure we can and must get fitter.....but the Biggest problem is Gameplan, player selection and lack of new attack/ Defence coached Structures....with R&N we have dropped to 4th and we not good enough to beat the top 2 ranked teams @ the Moment....we do though have the potential in players and Room for growth.....but at the Moment it looks like  most of that potential/possibilities is flying out the Door.

Jan 10, 2023, 16:43

I noticed from the middle of 2021 how our players had a shape, pattern and play, but they would struggle to maintain them for longer than 30 minutes of performing them. I can't recall ever seeing a Bok side struggle like that. This was quite a number of players. Fitness has to be the first detail, then defensive systems, and then we can focus on attacking patterns and shapes, tactics etc. 

Jan 10, 2023, 16:55

Whichever way, change needs to come in thick and Fast.

Jan 10, 2023, 16:58

The easiest solutions would be to work on fitness, and then defensive systems. We can craft an attacking philosophy around that. Given the time that we have available, that would be the most practical. Working the other way around would be more time-consuming and more personnel-dependent (changes which Erasputin will absolutely not put into effect). We can progress deep into the tournament with those changes. 

Jan 10, 2023, 19:19


Habana was an expert in scoring  individual tries - where he managed to get the ball with enough space.   That could come from passed balls - but in the main the scores of Habana came from a player and then Habana scored.

Did you read lower down what Meyer said about backline usage as an attacking force,   Meyer clearly did not believe in backline usage from an attacking perspective.


Jan 10, 2023, 19:46

Why are you so obsessed with Meyer? Does he make you feel uncomfortable? Meyer's Boks integrated backs and forwards seamlessly. It was a fluid system that empowered players, as opposed to dumbing them down with heavily scripted and bland sequences. Notice that Meyer and Jake didn't have the luxury of weak All Blacks sides. Erasputin couldn't have asked for an easier era to coach in, yet the Boks still look painfully mediocre. Erasputin's Boks always rank bottom for attacking production. The only exception was 2022 to an extent due to the painfully inadequate state of the RC. Yet even still, New Zealand heavily exposed the Boks in both tests, and the Wallabies gave the Boks an absolute hiding. The weakest ever Kiwi and Wallaby sides. Erasputin doesn't like the offload very much, hence his instructions throughout 2018 and 2019 to limit the offload, as it disrupted the ball control gameplan. Players who thrived under Meyer: Eben, Pollard, Willie... they have all regressed under Erasputin. 

Jan 10, 2023, 20:46

Meyer had a 67.6 % win percentage and R&N right now 62 %.....not so good.

Jan 10, 2023, 21:13

Meyer had to rebuild the team. Erasputin just had to make some obvious decisions. His tampering with the core Boks hasn't been very good. 

Jan 10, 2023, 21:32

Meyer rebuilding the team means running back to retired players to play for the Springboks after retirement.   A disastrous approach that in the end let him down badly. His team building also reulted in selection of 8 unplayable players in the 2015 WC series squad.

Erasmus had a massive task in establishing self-confidence in players nearly destroyed by Meyer and Coetzee.   

Jan 10, 2023, 21:38

Agreed but Rassie is steering to a extend, in the same direction with clinging on to the likes of Vermeulen, Frans, Fourie and Elstadt.

Jan 10, 2023, 21:46

Two games stood out last year...ABs in Nellies and the Poms at Twickers...and we lost vs Ire and France in their back yard, by the skin of our teeth...nothing much in the rest of the matches...were more than just OK, we're serious contenders...ask anyone.

Jan 10, 2023, 21:54

The Boks were awful against France and Ireland, and were outclasses by NZ in both tests. Australia pummelled us when they applied themselves. Wales actually played better in the two losses than the win. Were it not for Kwagga, Italy might have taken it to the wire. What does this man have to do to get a starting spot, defecate gold? Unbelievable. Erasputin out, a real coach in, and we need to take selection a lot more seriously than has been the case. 

Jan 10, 2023, 22:09

For me the two games that stood out most + send the most warning signals, is our losses to IRELAND and France....the fact is that we had chances to win those games like many others this past season.

Jan 10, 2023, 22:25

What worries me is our 80% defence. We are being run through for free. Any team who plays disciplined rugby will beat us. Were this any other era, we'd struggle to notch up a couple of wins. I haven't seen on solid performance since the final, and we have to go back to the Wallaby win of 2018 to find another. 

Jan 10, 2023, 23:49

Deus Ex Lemur - I agree.

There continues to be a major worry about NZ - FOSTER - He is a real concern.

The NZRU screwed up again. 

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