NEWS

South Africa great tips England to beat Boks

November 3, 2016

The man whose kicking helped inspire the film Invictus has tipped England to beat South Africa when the two sides meet in the first Old Mutual Autumn International series match of the season at Twickenham.

England will be hoping to continue their perfect winning record under Eddie Jones when they face the Springboks on November 12th, as well as beating a side they have not defeated in ten years. 1995 World Cup winner Joel Stransky believes they will.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live about his country's European tour, the man whose drop goal won the famous final in Johannesburg as Nelson Mandela watched on said the South African team is now "average" after losing players such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers through retirement or injury since last year's World Cup.

He said the 57-15 hammering by New Zealand in Durban last month had been a "proper slap in the face" for the team and predicted: "We are going to suffer defeats - that's the reality.

"I don't think this is a team that can beat England."

Stranksy added: "It's a team that will struggle against Wales. It's a team that might even struggle against Italy. The likelihood is we are going to experience defeat."

Such a downbeat view may encourage fans booking corporate hospitality for this match, or for the other games this autumn against Fiji, Argentina or Australia, that the winning run will continue.

However, the tour will also provide an opportunity for new stars to emerge, with Stransky commenting that the younger players need to "embrace the Springbok culture a little bit better and put their bodies and hearts on the line" if the team is to improve.

Having coached Japan to the shock result of last year's World Cup against South Africa, Eddie Jones will have high expectations of his men. If the Springboks are in a fallow period, the success of an RBS Six Nations Grand Slam and a 3-0 whitewash of Australia on their home turf suggests England are very much on the rise.

Just how much England's reputation has grown may become clear on November 13th, when the World Rugby Awards 2016 dinner takes place at the Hilton London Metropole.

Jones has been shortlisted for the coach of the year award, alongside New Zealand boss Steve Hansen and Ben Ryan, who coached Fiji to the inaugural Olympic rugby sevens gold.  

Also up for an award is Maro Itoje, whose brilliant performances have earned him a nomination for the emerging player of the year award alongside All Blacks Anton Lienert-Brown and Ardie Savea.

England, New Zealand and the Fijian sevens team are also in the running for the team of the year prize. While the All Blacks will be expected to win after stretching their own winning run to 18 matches, England can at least extend theirs to 12 against South Africa, and perhaps 15 by the end of the year.

Itoje will miss the opening match of the season with injury, but even without him the England juggernaut appears ready to run the stumbling Springboks off the road.

By Alex Brundell 

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