A quick note to all: The Springboks who won the World Cup will be in Cape Town to play the British and Irish Lions … not the provincial punch bags who are being paraded as the face of South African rugby, writes Mark Keohane.
I guess South African supporters love to claim the underdog status because when the Springboks then win, it is an all-win situation. But if we can’t call the Springboks favourites when playing in South Africa, as world champions, and with the core of the team that won the World Cup, then when can this team ever be considered the best leading into a home Test match?
It has amazed me how little faith there has been in the prospects of the Springboks winning the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions. Social media is cluttered with South African naysayers who are also doubling as cheerleaders for a Lions team, who won’t be tested until the first of the three international matches.
The Lions are a class above any of the provincial punch bags they have pounded and will pound in the next fortnight, but just for a moment, let’s take our focus away from the Lions and bring some perspective to what awaits the Lions in Cape Town.
The Boks starting XV won’t differ much from this: Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff. Add the likes of Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch, Trevor Nyakane, Jean-Luc du Preez, Dan du Preez, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Cobus Reinach, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse, Aphelele Fassi and Frans Steyn to that mix you have a squad of players who demand respect, and not who ask for it given their 2019 World Cup final demolition of England in Japan.
Of this squad, so many have been based overseas and have been the form players in the very same competitions that the Lions players earn their keep.
For goodness sake, enjoy the Lions pre-Test rugby exhibition, but keep some perspective and show some faith in those Rainbow Warriors who won the World Cup.
Also on www.keo.co.za