The Wallabies might be in a rut but it is folly to expect a side filled with “world class” players to be struggling for much longer, Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says.
Australia and South Africa are in similar situations ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test at Suncorp Stadium with both teams under huge pressure to account for recent poor displays and show improvement.
The tourists will have few better chances to knock off the Wallabies in Brisbane as they look to turn around a worrying six-game losing streak and placate a frenzied Australian rugby community.
But the Springboks are dealing with their own crisis of confidence after a hollow defeat to Argentina in Salta that has scribes in South Africa pondering if they’ll ever be a powerhouse nation again.
“At the moment we know one thing for sure, they’re hurting like we are,” Stick said.
“They’re playing at home, they’ve got a lot of pride when it comes to their jersey.
“Looking at the type of players you’ve got, you can never underestimate them.
“Israel Folau, Quade Cooper and Will Genia are world class.
“On their day, if those guys click together and play as a team, they can be dangerous.”
Centre Juan de Jong says the week-long break between rounds in the Rugby Championship has given the Springboks the chance to take stock and figure out precisely where they need to lift.
Their position is perhaps quite not as perilous as Australia’s, having lost just twice since the World Cup – in a series opener against Ireland earlier this year, and the 26-24 result to the Pumas, which was decided by a late Santiago Gonzalez Iglesais penalty.
“Whatever happened in Argentina is behind us now,” said de Jong, who was part of the bronze medal-winning South African sevens team at the Rio Olympics.
“We’ve had a week off to clear our minds a bit.
“For us it’s more important to focus on the small little things and making sure we rectify all the mistakes we did in Salta.
“You can’t leave the game to the last minute, we have to sharpen up and have a good start.”