Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick believes the Springboks are in a “better position” going into this year’s World Cup than they were prior to winning the tournament four years ago.
The Boks will wrap up their on-field preparations on the Mediterranean island of Corsica on Friday, before heading to their World Cup training base in Toulon on Saturday, and Stick said the team were on the right track to kick off their title defence against Scotland in Marseille on Sunday, 10 September.
“The conditions have been challenging for the boys – the first day was very humid and hot, so it was good for the players,” said Stick.
“This is similar to the conditioning week we had in Kagoshima in 2019, and the camp makes a lot of sense especially after playing against the All Blacks in London. It meant that we didn’t have to travel back to South Africa.
“As coaches we could also push the buttons a little from the conditioning side, so it’s been a great week for us to prepare for the World Cup.”
Commenting on the difference between where the squad is going into this edition compared to Japan 2019, Stick said: “I think we are in a better position now to where we were in 2019. Back then we only had 18 months to prepare, and we pulled off a miracle by winning the World Cup, and that was all through belief.
“If one looks at what we have invested in our squad and the depth we’ve managed to build going into this tournament, it’s fantastic. That said, what we did in the past counts for nothing if we don’t pitch up and perform week in and week out in the World Cup.”
With South Africa’s opening game just over a week away, Stick said the world champions are in a good space, mentally and physically.
“The excitement is there, but at the same time it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world, so there are nerves as well,” he added. “But in terms of where we are now, we’ve grown as a team and we are getting tighter, especially after the defeat against the All Blacks in Auckland.
“We learned a lot more in that match that match than from the games we won. It certainly brought us closer together, and we feel we are moving in the right direction.
“That said we know it’s going to be a tough tournament, but we’ll do everything in our power to make the country proud.”