The nucleus of South African rugby is fundamentally sound, says Springbok selection committee convener Peter Jooste.
Jooste was speaking after “one of South Africa’s best weekends” in this year’s Super 14 series.
Jooste says the Stormers convincing victory over the Crusaders, the brilliant level of play in the match between the Bulls and the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld, the Cheetahs nail-biting defeat in Bloemfontein and the Cats fight-back at Ellis Park have put a rosy hue on the Springboks prospects, he told Die Burger.
“What the Stormers and the Sharks have done in the past two weekends is especially important for our rugby. We want to see our teams play the overseas sides off their feet when they tour here.”
“The Stormers did this against a virtual All Blacks side, while the Sharks did the same against the Blues, also with several All Blacks,” said Jooste.
The Bulls also showed the Waratahs a thing or two earlier on in the competition. “What I’ve seen in the past few weekends, especially of our established Springboks, has boosted my expectations of what we can achieve in the Tri-Nations.”
These optimistic views come just a few weeks after there was major pessimism in South African rugby circles.
South Africa’s Super 14 teams had performed disappointingly and the Under-19 team was soundly beaten in the World Cup tournament in Dubai.
Jooste says South Africans tend to become panicky when they face adversity. “We have the talent and it just depends how it’s developed. It’s easy to discard players after one or two poor performances, but that is not the answer. We should rather place our confidence in them and work hard to rectify their mistakes.”
“The same happens to coaches. When teams don’t produce the results, everyone wants the coaches to be dismissed. It’s important, however, that there’s continuity in our teams. Many of our teams struggle in Super rugby because there are too many changes of coaches, management and players.”
“For the past few years, the Bulls have been our most-successful team because they’ve stuck to one coach and he has retained a nucleus of players. When players are content, they play so much better. We see the same thing with the Springboks,” he said.