Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is optimistic that his team will be successful at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
After a torrid two years, the Springboks will enter the 2018 Test arena as the sixth-ranked team in the world, with not many giving them a chance to challenge the top-ranked All Blacks.
However, the new coach begs to differ.
“Since my return to South Africa, I’ve been around the country and I can sense great urgency among our players and coaches. We all know things have been a little disappointing for our rugby lately, but the will to improve is there and that excites me,” Erasmus said in a recent interview with the official Springbok Magazine.
He continued: “We also have some time before the next World Cup to ensure the Boks go to Japan with all the ‘ammo’ needed to be successful. We’re aware that we’re not given much of a chance to be successful next year in Japan, but I know we have the players and expertise to give the Boks a realistic chance to be successful at the World Cup.”
Erasmus’ tenure as Bok coach starts with a Test against Wales in Washington DC on June 2, followed by a three-Test home series against England.
South Africa’s first Test against England is scheduled for June 9 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, with Tests in Bloemfontein (Free State Stadium, June 16) and Cape Town (Newlands, June 23) to follow.
And this is where the Boks’ immediate future lies.
“It’s indeed a very tough year - but our focus should not be beyond the one-off Test against Wales and the home series against England in June. Eddie Jones has done a wonderful job there - just look at their record since the last World Cup - and they will provide a stern test for the Boks, but we’re playing at home and this is where I believe the foundation for the rest of the season has to be laid,” Erasmus said.
“In an ideal world, the Boks would go through 2018 unbeaten, but that’s something very few teams achieve, so we have to be realistic and take things one step at a time. Which is exactly why our focus should only be on Wales and England for now.”