Rassie Erasmus picks the Rugby World Cup favourites

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Erasmus told the Daily Mail that the South African attitude going into the tournament would be one of defending the Cup. They lost to both Ireland (16-19) and France (26-30) in their 2022 Tests in November and shared their two-Test series with the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

Erasmus felt the South Africans had been 'a little bit cold' when they went into their game against Ireland, but the two Tests confirmed Ireland and France were ahead of them.

"And we know New Zealand if we played them today it would definitely be one point this way or that way. "

Erasmus confirmed the Springboks successfully got retired Test referee Nigel Owens from Wales on board with their Cup campaign. Owens had accepted the South African offer, and finer details were being worked on.

"The reason is straightforward. We could take one of our local refs, but it would be another South African voice. People from the outside think the South African voice is attacking or arrogant.

"Even the way I talk, sometimes people think it's aggressive. When you've known me for a while, you know it's not aggressive.

"We want to change that view. Before those two incidents [bans imposed on Erasmus for referee criticism], we never had stuff like that. It will take hard work to change.

"Someone like Nigel might come in and say, 'These guys are doing it right,' or he might say, 'Hey guys, you have to change a few things here'. It's the way he communicates. It's a real thing we're trying to fix, not a smokescreen.

"We felt we have to repair this because there's not a great relationship. We want to reset that. It's a genuine need for us to change.

"If we get our way, we will have him as soon as possible. We are very aligned in terms of the way World Rugby's going with safety, tackling, and head contact. So, it's the perception of whether or not something's OK when we send it to World Rugby.

"Maybe Nigel could talk to them for us. And then there's his knowledge in reviews, previews, videos. We want someone to be a full-on management member. It would be great."


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