'Any loss in a Springbok jersey is tough… but I think we all know the big games are next year'
After losing thrilling Test matches against both France and Ireland during the Autumn Nations Series, star centre Jesse Kriel believes the Springboks know what they “need to do” before the World Cup.
Reigning Rugby World Cup winners South Africa were tracking nicely earlier this season after a series win over Wales, and a dominant victory against rivals New Zealand.
But the Springboks lost 40 per cent of their next five Test matches – including a 25-17 loss against the Wallabies – before travelling north to take on the two best teams in the world.
Ireland and France are rightfully placed as the number one and two teams on the men’s World Rugby rankings going into a World Cup year.
World No. 1 Ireland were impressive all season, but the highlight was undoubtedly a first ever series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand – let alone their first two wins ever in Aotearoa.
As for Les Bleus, France managed to go unbeaten throughout the entire calendar year. They were tried and tested, but next year’s World Cup hosts proved unconquerable during the year that was.
South Africa lost their first Test of the autumn against Ireland in Dublin 19-16, before suffering another defeat against Les Bleus 30-26.
While they were able to bounce back from their first back-to-back defeats since August with a dominant display against Italy; but the Springboks saved their best performance for last.
The Springboks’ 27-13 demolition of England was truly an emphatic display, and it ultimately sealed Eddie Jones’ fate with England and the RFU.
Speaking on the Offload Podcast, World Cup winning centre Jesse Kriel said that while both losses were tough to take, the Springboks “got our answers” from those Tests.
“Any loss in a Springbok jersey is tough so I wouldn’t put one more or put one higher than the other one, I think both of them we were obviously gutted,” Kriel said.
“There were two pretty decent performances, and we did our homework on both teams, but I think we all know the big games are obviously next year at the World Cup.
“We’ve kind of got our answers from the games that we needed to get and everyone’s kind of sure (on) what we need to do.
“I think that’s kind of the most important thing that we got out of the Autumn Series.”
South Africa are in one of the toughest pools of next year’s World Cup, having been drawn in Pool B along with Ireland and Scotland.
Tonga and Romania are also in the group, but the two Six Nations sides in this pool could very well upset the reigning champions on their day.
That being said, this is set to be the toughest World Cup yet – and the Springboks will be aware of the fact that they’re on the tougher side of the draw.
If they made it to the knockout rounds, it’s very possible that they’d face either the All Blacks or hosts France in the quarter-finals.
“We know that we might have to take on both of them (Ireland and France),” he added.
“Both are really good teams, and we’ll probably play both of them if I’m selected in the squad, I don’t even know if I’m going to be there yet. Let’s first get selected.”
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