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Wins on the road issue for African sides

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    02 Jul 2018     Getty Images

South African Super Rugby sides have won only two from 20 games away from South Africa this year, the Sharks against the Blues and the Lions against the Waratahs while the Bulls and Stormers won no overseas games.

Writing on sarugbymag.co.za, Jon Cardinelli said: "The final South African tour scorecard for the regular season makes for depressing reading. It points to a mental problem. It doesn't inspire confidence ahead of the Super Rugby playoffs, several of which will be staged in Australasia, as well as the Boks' subsequent away Tests."

He made the point that while two wins only in Australasia and 12 losses was understandable, it was the inability to win in Argentina and Asia that was of most concern.

With the Lions and Sharks shaping as the only African playoff contenders there was little reason to believe they could win a knockout match away from home, Cardinelli said.

The consequences for the Rugby Championship could be a road bump for the Springboks' recovery under new coach Rassie Erasmus, Cardinelli said.

He pointed out that since 2016, South Africa have won only three of 14 Tests played away and haven't beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009 or the Wallabies in Australia since 2013.

And in Durban's Sunday Tribune, writer Darryn Pollock said Erasmus had made a positive start to his tenure, notably by appointing Siya Kolisi captain and winning the Test series against England, with two come from behind wins.

"However," Pollock said, "these come from behind victories cannot become the Boks' bread and butter as sterner opposition will not allow them such luxury. In the Rugby Championship, Los Pumas are renowned as a passionate side that get much harder to beat once their tails are up; where England got complacent, the Pumas will get fired up.

"The Australians are also a side that like to get things going early on. They are a skilful team which thrives on confidence, and if they had been offered early leads such as the June break for the Boks, they would not have hesitated to put the hammer down and finish the job.

"Then of course, there is the All Blacks, and if one team is famous for come from behind victories, it is the New Zealanders. They however, do not let it happen the other way round," he said.

Adding to their problems was the fact that they would be without No.8 Duane Vermeulen who is playing in Japan while there may issues over the release of halfback Faf de Klerk and fullback Willie le Roux from their England clubs.

"The Boks are on cloud nine right now, but we have seen even in the past two years where Allister Coetzee managed series' wins in June, all that can come crashing down in the course of one tournament. Erasmus will have to box clever, not only picking up results, but also continuing to impress his fans and critics alike," he said.