Former Springbok head coach Nick Mallett believes the growing number of South Africans heading overseas is hurting the game in his country.
Mallett, who was speaking as a guest on Supersport following Saturday’s 20-18 loss to Italy in Florence, was visibly shocked by the result.
He said that losing players to the lure of big-spending European outfits is having a negative impact and is something that needs addressing.
“I never expected to see Italy beat the Springboks,” Mallett revealed.
“Many of our best players are being lured overseas, especially to England, France and Japan, by much higher salaries than they can earn at home. It used to be that South Africans went abroad in the twilight of their careers to bolster income. Now they are leaving the country in their prime.”
The Boks have lost seven out of their 11 matches in 2016 in a dismal year that is still not over as they tackle Wales in Cardiff next week.
“South African rugby is in a low, depressing, terrible place,” added Mallett.
“In 2007 we were world champions and two years later won twice in New Zealand. Seven, eight, nine players from those teams would have been World XV candidates. Not one current Springbok would be a contender for a World XV place. It is a team that has no confidence.
“It would be easy to blame the coach (Allister Coetzee) or the captain (Adriaan Strauss), but the problems run deeper than that. We need to choose our best players and make sure they are handled by the best coaches.”
He continued: “Springbok attacks are too simplistic — all you need do to stop them is be brave. We still believe we can kick and tackle our way to victories.
“Rugby has evolved, but the Springboks have not. There is a need for a massive mindset change.
“Lions were the only South African franchise to impress in Super Rugby this year, reaching the final, and that was a clear indication that trouble lay ahead. Stormers were hammered at home in the quarter-finals and the Sharks, Bulls and Cheetahs did not even make the knockout phase.”