Former captain Jean de Villiers believes a lack of experience has contributed greatly to the Springboks' struggles in 2016.
De Villiers, who spoke at a breakfast event in Port Elizabeth, said there were no quick solutions that would transform the Boks into World Champions.
The former Bok centre said there were good reasons why South Africa had declined this season.
"We shouldn't forget that we lost many experienced players after last year's World Cup, De Villiers daid. De Villiers, Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez all retired after the 2015 tournament, while brothers Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis headed overseas.
"You have an inexperienced team and a new coach. And the new coach got a coaching staff he didn't pick and then he gets instructions about how the team should be picked," De Villiers said.
"There is no quick solutions. The players and the coaching staff have to get more experience and get comfortable with each other and the game plan."
De Villiers questioned players' willingness to think for themselves on the field and said if a player isn't comfortable with the game plan, they should have the confidence to speak up.
"If a players doesn't agree with something he must be able to say why and everyone should then work together to formulate a plan. The players aren't lazy when it comes to practice, but I sometimes get the feeling they are too lazy to think."
De Villiers said some players are so obsessed with the game plan they are either too scared to lazy to make different decision on the field.