Lack of fitness and a sluggish ability to adapt is holding back the South African teams early in the Super 14, according to Blues coach David Nucifora.
The Blues thrashed the Lions 55-10 in Johannesburg yesterday to follow the Crusaders’ equally-comprehensive 54-19 triumph in Pretoria the day before.
The NZ Herald reports that it already eclipses last year’s abysmal record for New Zealand teams on South African soil, who could manage just one win between them.
While some are trumpeting the results this weekend as a symbol of South African decline since the Springboks lifted the World Cup four months ago, Nucifora disagreed.
“There’s not really a correlation between what happened at the World Cup and this competition,” he said.
Several of South Africa’s premier players are injured or have left for European contracts but Nucifora cited more ingrained issues.
South African teams were still coming to grips with the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) introduced this year, he believed, while New Zealand teams simply appeared be more fit in the opening weeks of the competition.
“Fitness is a very important factor,” Nucifora said.
“I do think it’s showing up. To play the pace we’re playing at for 80 minutes is a credit to the players.
“Add to that the ELVs have come in, and I think traditionally Australian and New Zealand teams adapt to change a little bit quicker than the South Africans do.
“It’s probably some advantage playing their teams a little bit earlier in the competition.”
Nucifora predicted the Sharks, also unbeaten after two narrow wins, would adapt best and become a major threat in the competition.Tweet