'Too early to tell' where Boks are at

Johann van Graan (Gallo Images)
Johann van Graan (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Springboks will only know how good or bad they are when this year's Rugby Championship has concluded.

That was assistant coach Johann van Graan's answer to the question if there was still only a two-point difference between South Africa and New Zealand. The World Cup champions beat the Boks 20-18 in the semi-final of last year's tournament.

"It's a difficult question to answer," Van Graan told Netwerk24.

"We'll have a bigger picture of where we stand after the home Tests. It's currently a massive challenge to play against the All Blacks in New Zealand."

Since that semi-final it seems as if the All Blacks have improved despite losing a string of experienced stalwarts, while South Africa have degressed despite finding themselves in a rebuilding phase.

Therefore most pundits expect the Boks to get a hiding in Christchurch on Saturday.

"If you want to win here, you have to be at your best for 80 minutes," Van Graan said. "We want to give ourselves a good chance for victory. We are going to focus on what we do well. Hopefully we achieve the desired outcome.

It's an interesting statement by Van Graan considering that under Allister Coetzee's coaching the Boks have largely abandoned one of their biggest strengths - the rolling maul. It's something former captain Victor Matfield also picked up after the Argentina defeat.

While the Boks are trying to figure things out, Van Graan realises the patience of the fans are running out.

"We have fantastic, rugby loving fans in South Africa who want to see results. They want to see the Boks win. We realise it's our duty to get results and perform according to people's expectations. We also realise it's not easy, but it's our job.

"We are a proud rugby nation. We want to be the best in the world. We still have a long way to go in order for that to happen but we'll take it step by step."

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