O'Driscoll: Boks can bounce back by 2019

Brian O'Driscoll (Twitter)
Brian O'Driscoll (Twitter)

Monaco - Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll believes that the Springboks have just enough time to get themselves into competitive shape before the 2019 World Cup in Japan rolls around.

O'Driscoll, an Irish veteran of 141 Test matches, has spent a significant amount of time in South Africa - Cape Town and Durban in particular - doing work with the Laureus Sport for Good foundation. 

When former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick spoke to South African media on Monday, he suggested that the major challenge to New Zealand in Japan would come from the northern hemisphere in England, Ireland and Scotland. 

O'Driscoll, though, reckons that the Boks can get back to their best before then. 

"We're 18 months out ... there is still a lot of rugby to be played in that time," he said.

"In Test rugby it takes a while to change and to build sides, but there is still time on South Africa and Australia's side.

"If the World Cup was in September I'd certainly agree (with Fitzpatrick). The northern hemisphere teams in the UK and Ireland are building towards it quite nicely.

"If I was Irish, Welsh or Scottish I would certainly be thinking that this is a good opportunity to get to a semi-final or a final, because of the current situation of, particularly Springbok rugby and to a slightly lesser extent, Australian rugby."

O'Driscoll, like most in the rugby community, is surprised at how far the Boks have fallen in the two years they played under Allister Coetzee.

They won just 11 matches from 25 during that time - a return that O'Driscoll would never have expected.

"You don't associate those types of results with South Africa. Even on their worst day they still get the job done or they are very competitive," he said.

"Ireland put them to the sword in November and they've also lost to Italy the year before."

"It clearly identifies that there are issues within and maybe now that Rassie (Erasmus) has come on board he will have an opportunity to put his twist on things."

When asked by Sport24 if the Boks were in danger of losing their 'fear factor', O'Driscoll was reluctant to go that far.

"I don't think you lose that overnight, but equally if you do lose it then you don't get it back overnight," he said.

"South Africa have always been good at World Cups. They always seem like they're in the hunt at the business end of the competition and you have to pay respect to that too."

*Lloyd Burnard is in Monaco as a guest of Laureus ... 

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