'I'm scared for them' - South African legend sounds Boks warning claxton
While it might already be one-nil to the Springboks after this week’s unofficial fourth Test victory by South Africa A side, one Springbok legend isn’t so convinced by his former team. Schalk Burger says he’s ‘scared’ for the Springboks, who he believes are still undercooked despite effectively winning two Test matches in the last three weeks – against Georgia and now the Lions.
It’s an interesting view and one that goes against the grain in a rugby nation that generally runs on super high confidence levels, no matter what opposition lie ahead.
‘I don’t doubt that the Boks will be super-competitive, but I’m scared for them not being Test match savvy and sharp when the pressure comes on,” Burger told Chris Foy in the Daily Mail. The retired flanker, who was capped 86 times by South Africa and faced the Lions in the notoriously brutal 2009 tour, believes the scrum could yet be key for the Bokke.
‘Not a lot has been said in the build-up about the scrum and, for me; that is going to be the main area of contention either way,’ he said. ‘If we dominate the scrum, the Lions will be struggling. We have two phenomenal front rows and the scrum is such a big part of the Boks’ psyche. They will be patient. Even if it takes 60 or 70 minutes to gain that ascendancy, they will be going for it.’
And even inside the Springbok camp, it’s apparent that the World Champions are nowhere near as confident as they could be going into a Test week. Yesterday, a Springbok A side suffered an embarrassing 17 – 14 defeat to the Bulls, a result that clearly caught head coach Jacques Nienaber off guard.
“We needed three games to get our ducks in a row before the Test series and we got that. The result was not what we had hoped for, but a number of questions were answered, especially with regards to the readiness of individual players and their readiness for selection,” said Nienaber, in a tellingly emotional press conference following the game.
“I wanted the guys to stake a claim for selection for next week’s Test and unfortunately, not everyone did that, but I am not going to discuss individuals – any comments on them will be emotional, because we are hurting.
“As a team, the performance was not there, and I blame myself for that as well. The lack of dominance from our pack was not what we had expected. With the late confirmation of the game, we also did not do any analysis on the Bulls and that showed, while I did expect a better set-piece platform.”
“The Bulls were good and desperate, and they showed how much they wanted it. The disappointing part is that they wanted it more as a team.”
“As there were places up for grabs in the Test team, we will do a proper review.”
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