Cape Town - The Springboks will benefit from the fact that South Africa's Super Rugby challenge is over, a New Zealand scribe reckons.
Duncan Johnstone, writing for popular New Zealand website Stuff, has taken note of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus naming a 26-man training squad for a camp in Pretoria over the weekend.
South Africa's Super Rugby hopes faded with the Bulls and Sharks losing in the quarter-finals last weekend, but Johnstone noted: "The threat of the Springboks just increased as South Africa's weak Super Rugby challenge evaporated. Injuries and a shortage of preparation time are the biggest concerns in a World Cup year.
"The Springboks can now watch some of their major rivals bash each other up over the next few weeks ahead of the Rugby Championship opener between the Boks and Wallabies in Johannesburg on July 21, a weekend that sees the All Blacks take on Argentina in Buenos Aires.
"All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have all his fingers and toes crossed there are no major casualties when the Crusaders and Hurricanes clash in a semifinal in Christchurch this week. The all-Kiwi affair means one team will go on to the final, facing another physically draining affair."
Erasmus also called up nine overseas-based players into his squad and this will vastly strengthen the Boks, Johnstone believes.
"The gets to call in players who aren't even on the Super Rugby radar of his Sanzaar rivals. The Boks have been on a quick but steady rise under Erasmus, beating the All Blacks in Wellington last year and almost winning the rematch in Pretoria." he added.
The Springboks kick off their shortened campaign on July 20 against the Wallabies in Johannesburg and that match will be followed a week later by the keenly awaited rematch with New Zealand in Wellington, the scene of last year's epic away win over against the All Blacks.
The Boks conclude their official campaign against Argentina two weeks later, on August 10 in Salta, while the same two teams are set to meet again a week later in Pretoria in a once-off Test before the Boks report for Rugby World Cup training duty.