Wellington - South Africa must dump two of its six Super Rugby teams to revive the ailing Springboks, Rugby World Cup-winner Joel Stransky said on Tuesday, arguing weak provincial sides were fostering a losing mentality.
Stransky said South Africa's 20-18 loss to Italy in Florence at the weekend was "catastrophic to say the least" and was scathing about the Boks' attitude.
"I don't think we ever imagined in our worst nightmare that it would be this bad, to be quite frank," he told New Zealand's Radio Sport.
"It's not a good team and there's no burning desire to work hard and get through this. There's something missing in that culture at the moment."
The 49-year-old, who potted the drop goal that secured South Africa the 1995 World Cup, blamed "amateur" administrators and an exodus of young talent to overseas clubs.
But he said the most pressing issue was the diluted player pool caused by having six Super Rugby teams.
No South African team has won the competition since 2010 and Stransky said that their failure was preventing the development of a winning culture that could be transferred to the Test arena.
"We need to understand that we can't compete with six Super Rugby franchises," he said.
"We'd probably be at our best with four... if we want to be strong in the future we need strong domestic (Super) rugby."
Stransky said the surviving Super teams would have better player rosters and increased financial clout, making it easier for them to lure young talent back from overseas.
He nominated the country's worst-performing Super teams - the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs and Port Elizabeth's Southern Kings - as the ones that should go.
"With all due respect to Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth, there's not the crowd support and financial support to sustain the teams," he said.
"We've got to make the right decisions for the Springboks, not the individual (administrators) running the game."
The Springboks take on Wales in Cardiff this weekend in the final match of a miserable European tour.
They have lost seven of 11 Tests this year, equalling their record for the most defeats in a season since returning to international rugby in 1992 from apartheid-induced isolation.