Rugby Championship

Mehrtens: Beware of the Boks!

2014-09-17 16:00
Andrew Mehrtens (AFP)
Cape Town - Former New Zealand flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens has warned his countrymen of the threat South Africa could pose at next year's Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks narrowly beat the Springboks 14-10 in their Rugby Championship clash in Wellington last weekend, but Mehrtens saw enough to believe all will not be plain sailing when the Kiwis defend their World Cup crown in England next year.

Via a column on the website, Mehrtens highlighted the Boks' physicality as a major weapon.

He wrote: "The All Blacks may march on undefeated but the weekend demonstrated palpably that South Africa are going to be big-time World Cup threats.

"Maybe bigger even than the hosts who are also going to take some beating at Fortress Twickenham.

"Sure, the Springboks weren't able to get up and end their five-year losing streak on New Zealand soil, but boy did they get close. And a year out from the Cup it's significant that they're knocking on the door."

Mehrtens also rubbished the notion that the Springboks are a one-dimensional team not capable of playing enterprising rugby.

"They continue to play with so much physicality across the board but we're also seeing their skilful guys - like Willie le Roux - come to the fore and look to spark things.

"The Springboks' try on Saturday came when they exposed the All Black defence with a well-worked decoy and there was a loss of connection with the inside defender. It only takes the outside man being a step or two ahead, and the result is a gap which we have seen in recent tries against the world champions.

"To their credit the Boks moved quickly and decisively and it was all over before our guys had a chance to scramble. Despite what many people believe, South Africans like to play.

"We saw England come out in June and pressure the All Blacks, but they don't yet have the collective skill requited to play the high-tempo game. South Africa have similar physicality, but a lot more attacking nous. I can vouch for the fact they've had it for a while too.

"In 2000 we thought we had them at Jo'burg but they played some incredible rugby we just couldn't keep up with in a 46-40 loss. And that Test last year at the same venue was great rugby from both teams. Anyone who writes the Boks off as boofheads who have always played a one-dimensional game just doesn't get it, and hasn't seen centres such as Danie Gerber, Andre Snyman or Marius Joubert. They can play."

The Springboks have two matches left in the Rugby Championship - against Australia in Cape Town (September 27) and New Zealand in Johannesburg (October 4).

CLICK HERE to read Andrew Mehrtens's full column on the website

Read more on:    springboks  |  all blacks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby

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