SA faces tough task in Championship - Ndungane

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    07 Jul 2018     Getty Images

Progress may have been made in the performances of the country's Super Rugby teams but there is still work to be done and that could be reflected in the Championship.

Ndungane told that the South African rugby public would have to be patient with the Springboks and they should not under-estimate the impact of the losses the side suffered last year, including their 0-57 loss to the All Blacks in Albany.

"South Africa did well to win the three-Test series against England, but still have a long way to go," he said.

"The way the Boks started the first two Tests against the English wasn't ideal and, if they do the same against their opponents in the Rugby Championship, it won't be as easy to launch a comeback," he said.

The key for South Africa to win the Championship was to win their home games.

"I don't care if it's New Zealand or whoever else – you have to win on home turf.

"I would love to believe the Boks can win the Rugby Championship this year, but realistically I don't think they can do so yet. As a relatively new team, they still have a long way to go.

"I believe the Springboks' biggest goal should be in terms of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. It will prove the ultimate gauge in terms of how far they have developed as a team," he said.

The Rugby Championship would be a good acid test for them but winning the Rugby World Cup would be the main prize.

"The All Blacks will always be a difficult team to beat because they have created such a strong winning culture.

"Are the All Blacks beatable? Yes, definitely.

"But they don't lose often because they have buy-in from everyone and know they can go in on match-day with the ability to beat any opponent.

"Having lost a number of key players after the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, you could have been forgiven for thinking the All Blacks may struggle to remain at the top.

However, the All Blacks swept to back-to-back Rugby Championship titles in 2016 and 2017," he said.

Ndungane said beating the All Blacks twice in New Zealand, and claiming the Tri Nations title in Hamilton in 2009 had been one of the proudest moments in his Springbok career.

"Having lost the previous week in Australia, many people doubted we would clinch the title in New Zealand. However, after our loss in Perth, Peter [de Villiers] rallied the players and created an environment in which everyone believed we would win the game and the Tri Nations.

"We had a quiet self-belief that we would pull if off and there was never any doubt," he said.

Ndungane added that he enjoyed de Villiers as a coach and rated him one of the best mentors to have coached the Springboks.