Former Australian coach Eddie van der Jones has claimed the All Blacks “are ripe for the picking” and put his money on the Springboks to win the Tri-Nations series this year.
Jones, who currently coaches Saracens, also predicted a win against the Wallabies in Australia and praised captain John Smit and the depth that the Boks have in certain positions.
He told the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag that if the Springboks played their cards right, they would add a Tri-Nations crown to the World Cup victory in France last year.
“Peter de Villiers has a great pool of talent out of which he can choose a team to face New Zealand,” Jones wrote in an exclusive column in the paper but warned that the right selection choices needed to be made.
“The Springboks have so much more depth in positions than any other team in the competition.”
Jones believes the All Blacks are vulnerable.
“With several players injured and a number of them who have sought further employment in England after the World Cup, the All Blacks are definitely vulnerable,” he wrote.
“But it still is the biggest test in World rugby to try and beat the All Blacks at home. This year however, the Springboks will have a perfect opportunity to do so, especially now that their captain Richie McCaw is out of the Test series through injury. They are ripe to be picked.
“Smit and his team should dominate particularly in the line-outs and De Villiers had another master stroke by bringing back Victor Matfield to anchor the setpiece. By doing so he has ensured the Boks can dominate any line-out in world rugby.”
Jones also praised De Villiers’ choice earlier in the year to re-appoint World Cup winning captain John Smit as his captain.
“It was a master stroke,” Jones wrote, “Smit is a brilliant captain and has the ability to motivate his players to play as a unit.
“There are few better than him in world rugby and just his presence on the field will make a difference.”
Jones, however, warned that the Boks needed to ensure their defence – particularly in the midfield – needed to be airtight.
“Adrian Jacobs will be tested in the midfield, especially as he has not played a lot against the tough midfielders that New Zealand will put onto the field. He played very well in the Super 14 but to face New Zealand in New Zealand is another proposition altogether.
“Jean de Villiers is in a class of his own but it will be a determining factor how Jacobs defends on his outside.”
Jones also predicted a South African win over Australia.
“South Africa should dominate the line-outs against Australia especially as Australia are still getting used to their own new coach Robbie Deans.
“My money is on the Boks to win, but then they need to use their line-out strength and the younger players need to take the step up to Test rugby.” – Sapa
This article was originally published on page 32 of The Star on June 30, 2008Tweet