Boks better than in 2007 – Deans

Date published: July 13 2015

Former Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans believes the 2015 Springboks are a more complete side than the team that lifted the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

South Africa used a simple, yet highly effective, game-plan en route to the world crown under Jake White in 2007 as they utilised their massive pack, the deadly accurate boot of scrum-half Fourie du Preez and the finishing of Bryan Habana with ruthless efficiency.

Rugby has moved on from those days, however, and what Deans called a "one dimensional" style is no longer good enough to beat the world's best teams.

But Deans, who coached Australia to victory over South Africa in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals, believes that current Bok coach Heyneke Meyer is on the right path.

Speaking after the Springboks' big win over the World XV side which he coached alongside former France boss Bernard Laporte, Deans said he thought South Africa had added new dimensions to their game and must be counted as serious contenders in England later this year.

"They were positive, they were ambitious," Deans said of the Boks' approach in the 46-10 win at Newlands.

"If you look at the profile of the group [Meyer] is putting together, he's clearly looking to play more than one way – which is important.

"I just think the days of being one dimensional are over, and to be frank the Boks of 2007 were one dimensional, but they were so good at what they did and so imposing. But that was the way the game was played back then, the ruck height was a lot lower, blokes got away with a lot more at breakdown time so they essentially played without the ball and had a team that could do that, and do it effectively.

"That won't be the case this year. You need a little bit more. You need to ask more across the field in order to get that forward momentum."

Deans pointed to the mix of a handful of young newcomers and a few veterans as key element of the Springboks' World Cup challenge.

"[Meyer] has got some pretty vibrant blokes in there," he noted.

"Damian de Allende is playing some great rugby. He's been playing remarkable rugby all year. He’s just doing the right things, and he definitely adds another dimension to the Boks' game. Things happen when he's involved.

"It's great to see Jean (de Villiers) out there again. He'll be important at World Cup time. Those two together…they look pretty potent.

"Eben Etzebeth is a vibrant player… and Victor Matfield is a World Cup player. He's going to be an important player in northern hemisphere conditions. There's a good mix in there."

By Ross Hastie