Springboks set 2023 Rugby World Cup goal

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The All Blacks won consecutive World Cups in 2011 and 2015.


Saturday's loss to the All Blacks did nothing to ease the South African alarm.


Sarugbymag.co.za writer Zelim Nel said the Springboks were struggling with their transition from Cup winner to Cup defender.


He said 'snail-paced evolution' in the side was so bad that had not Tendai Mtawarira and François Louw retired, they would probably have lined up against the All Blacks on Saturday.


They are only one year older than Duane Vermeulen, 36, whose start on Saturday was his first game since knee surgery.


"Richie McCaw was 35 when he led the All Blacks to back-to-back titles at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The core of the squad that had won the 2011 showpiece was on deck four years later.



"More precisely, ten players and seven starters featured in both finals – it would have been 11 and eight had Dan Carter not been injured in 2011.


"A present-day Springbok comparison provides some telling insight. If Rassie Erasmus this season picked a squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, there would be 18 holdovers and 13 of the same starters."


Nel said the first change needed to be was at first five-eighths where Handré Pollard was too limited in developing the Springbok set-phase attack.


"A veteran leader, a physical carrier and a satisfactory goal-kicker, Pollard is a predictable running threat and a mediocre distributor."


Damian Willemse was the player needed to start to gain the required experience ahead of France.


At halfback, Faf de Klerk had struggled to stay on the field, while Jaden Hendrikse, who replaced him 40seconds into the first Test against the All Blacks, was considered a brighter prospect.


Flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit had not performed consistently since 2019 when he was named World Rugby's player of the year. Franco Mostert and Elrigh Louw were better options, with du Toit moving to lock.


They also needed to develop other defensive options.


"The kamikaze defence is slowly losing the element of surprise and, as the All Blacks did, teams will increasingly explore wide options to get around South Africa's otherwise impregnable narrow line," he said.


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