Jake White wishes he had similar support structures to those offered by the Irish Rugby Union.
The Springbok coach praised the IRFU for their professional approach to the game and in the process took a subtle swipe at his Saru bosses.
“A lot of credit must go to the way the Irish have got their base right,” he said. “They’ve kept their players in the union. A player like Brian O’Driscoll has been offered a big contract by the union [worth 2 million euros that will keep him in Ireland until 2011]. I’m sure he had lots of offers from clubs in other countries.
“The Irish players are also centrally contracted, so they get a full 10 weeks off to work on their conditioning,” he added.
White then claimed Ireland were at an advantage because their players come from just two provinces.
“Their forwards play for Munster and their backs for Leinster. They have a halfback pairing [Peter Stringer and Ronan O'Gara] that play together every week, so there’s no surprise that they are succesful at international level.”
However, the coach’s argument falls flat when you actually look at the match 22 that beat the Boks. Ireland’s left wing Andrew Trimble, flank Neil Best and hooker Rory Best all play for Ulster, as do substitutes Bryan Young, Isaac Boss and Paddy Wallace. Simon Easterby, who came on during the second half, is with the Llanelli Scarlets.
“You look at the Brumbies and the Crusaders,” White continued. “They are predominantly the players that play for Australia. Ireland are getting the same sort of fruits that those teams are giving to their national set-up.”
Whether White will follow that trend in future by picking the entire Bulls (or Cheetahs) pack and Sharks (or Stormers) backline remains to be seen.
By Simon Borchardt in London