Shane Williams believes the northern hemisphere are gaining ground on their southern rivals while stating that the Lions have the ability to beat the Boks.
The IRB Player of the Year feels despite the results saying otherwise – the European countries only won one Test in November against the Tri-Nations teams – that the gap between north and south wasn’t widening. Wales were the only successful Six Nations team when they downed the Wallabies 21-18 in the last Test of the month.
“We felt we were good enough to beat South Africa, we played a very good 40 minutes against New Zealand, but lost in the second half and then we beat Australia,” Williams told the BBC. “I don’t think we’re a million miles away. We’re narrowing the gap every year.”
Williams admitted the Tri-Nations trio were still the benchmark, but being competitive was a sign of progress according to him.
“Whereas in the past New Zealand would come over on tour and thump all the teams, this year teams are proving we can compete with the best in the world [Wales lost 29-9]. Saying that, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are the best three sides in the world at the moment, without question.”
Despite the poor results and the general lack of depth as individual countries, Williams believes once the four home nations unite to form the British & Irish Lions, they could cause an upset over the Boks next year.
“With the calibre of player going on this tour, we are more than capable of winning. I’d love to be part of a successful tour, but a lot of things can happen between now and then with loss of form and injuries.”