Gunning for greatness

Pierre Spies has become one of the world’s elite No 8s. And if he and some of the game’s most respected figures are to be believed, he will get even better.

Former Bok technical adviser Eddie Jones is one of several experts who rate Spies in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week.

Click here to see the cover

‘The breakdown law interpretations will see him become the pre-eminent No 8 in world rugby, simply because he’s light years ahead of any of the competition in terms of sheer athleticism and physicality,’ says Jones. ‘Who matches his pace? Nobody, not even [Ryan] Kankowski, who has some appreciable toe. Who matches his upper-body strength and leg drive? Same answer.’

In the same article, Spies explains how he’s learnt to treat adulation and criticism with equal contempt, and why his self-belief is unwavering.

‘I don’t think the media and public know what they want you to be sometimes – humble [read: self-effacing] or supremely confident,’ he says. ‘I don’t think I lack humility and neither am I apologetic about my own estimation of my standing in the game. I believe I have something special because I’m unlike most No 8s in terms of my pace, and my experience as a backline player gives me a more holistic understanding of how best to link with them and about attacking lines in the backline.’

Spies also talks about the 2011 Rugby World Cup, how South Africa’s success in New Zealand has removed the aura of invincibility Kiwi teams used to have, whether he’d consider playing overseas and why he’s looking forward to the soccer World Cup.

Also in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine:

– Keo on why Peter de Villiers must use this Test season to build Springbok squads for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups

Wynand Olivier has mounted a serious challenge for the Springbok No 12 jersey

– The Stormers are no longer the South African softies of Super Rugby

– Nineteen-year-old Sharks fullback Pat Lambie on his Sharks debut, his rugby future, Stefan Terblanche’s influence, and being selected for the Baby Boks

– Brumbies fullback Julian Huxley has made a remarkable return to the game after being diagnosed with a brain tumour two years ago

– Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu on what went wrong this season, how they can put things right, and why they won’t be medal contenders at the 2016 Olympics

– SA Referees manager Andre Watson on the new law interpretations, Saru’s scrum factory and the criticism of referees

– Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards on stopping the Springbok pack, South Africa’s fantastic depth and why the new law interpretations are good for Wales

– France centre Yannick Jauzion is teaching his younger rivals a lesson

– Italy tighthead Martin Castrogiovanni will give the Springbok scrum a stern examination in June

– Former All Blacks wing Jonah Lomu has found happiness on and off the field

– Plus: Jake White column and Jonathan Kaplan tests your knowledge of the laws