Monaco - Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick believes the Springboks are unlikely to threaten the All Blacks at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The 54-year-old, who was New Zealand's captain when they lost the 1995 World Cup final to South Africa at Ellis Park, was speaking at this year's Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.
Never shy of a word, Fitzpatrick was open on his views on the current state of South African rugby.
The Boks have had a disappointing two years under Allister Coetzee, winning just 11 of their 25 matches across that period.
This year, though, they have a new man in charge in Rassie Erasmus, who will look to turn what has been a sinking ship around in 2018.
Fitzpatrick, naturally, backs the All Blacks as favourites in 2019, and he believes that the major challenge to their title will come from the northern hemisphere.
"No disrespect to Australia and South Africa, but I think the major challenge to New Zealand in 2019 will come from the northern hemisphere," he said.
"Living in the northern hemisphere I see year in, year out and week in, week out how these players are changing their attitudes and how they're getting better."
Fitzpatrick pointed to this past weekend's Six Nations clash, where Scotland upset England, as an example of how the northern hemisphere was progressing.
"It's mind-blowing what they've (Scotland) done in the last few years," he said.
"I think the threats will definitely come from England, Ireland and even Scotland now."
That said, Fitzpatrick did hope to see the Boks improve and reach their best once again.
"I'm a fan of watching Test match rugby and you want it to be competitive," he said.
"As much as I want New Zealand to dominate, I don't think it's healthy for World Rugby to have one team dominating year in and year out.
"I want South Africa to be strong."
*Lloyd Burnard is in Monaco as a guest of Laureus ...