Gruelling training camp has prepared the team for battle

Boks in tip-top shape ahead of World Cup – Stick

Mzwandile Stick during the South Africa men's national rugby team training session at Twickenham Stoop, London.
Mzwandile Stick during the South Africa men's national rugby team training session at Twickenham Stoop, London.
Image: Gallo Images/Steve Haag

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick insists the Rugby World Cup (RWC) holders are in a “better position” going into this edition than they were four years ago.

The Boks back then went into the tournament as Rugby Championship winners, before beating Argentina at Loftus Versfeld and hosts Japan in Saitama. 

This time round in their RWC warm-up Tests they beat Argentina in Buenos Aires and Wales in Cardiff before stunning the All Blacks in London.

Many of the 2019 winners are back for more.

“I think we are in a better position now compared 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.”

The Boks have been put through their paces in a gruelling training camp in Corsica and Stick believes that will stand them in good stead going into the tournament next week.

The conditions have been challenging for the boys,” said Stick. “The first day was very humid and hot, so it was good for the players.

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 we didn’t have to travel back to SA.

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.”

The Springboks will wrap up their on-field preparations on the Mediterranean island on Friday before making the journey to their RWC training base in Toulon on Saturday via ferry.

Stick said the team was on track to kick off its campaign against Scotland in Marseille next Sunday.

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. 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 learnt a lot more in 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.”

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