Cape Town - Former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky feels South Africa’s talent pool is not as big as many believe it to be.
It’s been a torrid year for Allister Coetzee’s Springboks, with the team losing seven of 11 Tests.
That "record" included a first ever loss to Ireland on home soil, losing away to Argentina, getting pummelled by a record 57-15 scoreline at home against the All Blacks, as well as last weekend's fiasco in Florence, which saw a first ever loss to 13th-ranked Italy (20-18).
In a Skype interview on New Zealand chat show, The Breakdown - which was aired by SuperSport this week - Stransky expressed his concern with his former team.
Former All Black wing Jeff Wilson hosts the show, which had ex-All Black lock Ian Jones and current hooker James Parsons as part of the panel.
“We quite rightly see ourselves as the laughing stock of world rugby... from such highs to such lows. Certainly, for many of us it’s been on the cards. We have some issues that are unresolved and are not being attended to,” a worried Stransky said.
The Lions were South Africa’s best team in Super Rugby this year, with many of their players earning Springbok call-ups.
But Stransky has not been impressed by some of the Lions players’ contributions, saying they have not made the step up from Super Rugby to Test level.
“I’m not sure we’ve got as many quality players as we think we have. If you look at this Springbok side, the bulk of the players in that team are players who deserve to be there - based on their performance in Super Rugby - and they probably are the best that we have access to at the moment. But in reality they’re not good enough. A lot of those players are Lions players and I can’t help feeling that the Lions collectively are much better than they are as a group of individuals. A lot of those individuals have not stepped up to Test rugby.
“In just defending us a little bit, we have lost a lot of our senior players in the last while and we are in that process of evolution, but I’m not sure we have as much talent...”
Stransky earlier this week said South Africa must dump two of their six Super Rugby teams to revive the ailing Springboks, arguing weak provincial sides were fostering a losing mentality.
He doesn’t think it will happen though.
“I’m not sure there’s an appetite because the reality is we are driven by an old fashioned presidents council and I’m not sure that they put the interests if Springbok rugby at heart. There’s a lot of interest at the unions. So I’m not sure what the appetite is...
“But I just don’t understand how we can expect to survive with our talent (pool) that’s so thin. We have five weak teams and one team that played really well. And as a result the players are not coming through in a strong structure, they’re not coming through in a competitive environment. They certainly don’t have a winning culture and that’s carried through into the Springbok environment.
“For me it’s really simple... financially... to be able to keep our better players here, we’ve got to have a strength versus strength environment. We’ve got to breed a winning culture again.”