All Blacks will have an edge over Boks, warns former skipper Corne Krige

The Springboks, seen here with the 2019 Rugby Championship trophy, might have to defend their title on Kiwi soil. Picture: Getty Images

With SA players already falling behind in terms of match fitness, the All Blacks will receive a significant advantage if the entire Rugby Championship is to be held in New Zealand later this year, former Springbok captain Corne Krige believes.

World Rugby announced a preliminary
international schedule earlier this week, suggesting the Championship be held on Kiwi soil between November 7 and December 12.

“I think there is no doubt that New Zealand will get an added advantage if the Championship is to be held on their own fields,” said Krige, who captained the Boks at the 2003 World Cup.

“But at the same time I believe everyone is so hungry for rugby that we will grab at any opportunity, provided we get the green light from the authorities.”

Krige also felt there was concern about how ready the Boks would be as they had probably already lost a lot of ground, with New Zealand in their second month of their Aotearoa Super Rugby competition and Australia having also recently kicked off their own domestic
competition.

While local teams had returned to training this week, contests remained suspended under level three of the national lockdown regulations.

“We have fallen behind… but at the same time I have spoken to various people recently and what I’ve heard is that our players are the fittest they have been for some time,” Krige said.

“So as soon as they are allowed to make contact I believe they will catch up quickly as far as match fitness is concerned.”

Former Springbok captain Corne Krige. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Krige, however, said he could understand why World Rugby decided to
allocate the Championship to New Zealand after their lockdown
restrictions were lifted, with the Kiwi nation managing to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“New Zealand is probably the safest play to go and play right now after they were declared virus-free and they have really done great work to ensure they contain the pandemic,” he said.

“I also think, from what I’ve seen of their Aotearoa competition, that they have managed to bring in large crowds, which is very good for rugby after a very frustrating period.”

World Rugby had also decided that the Pro14 would restart on August 21 without the Cheetahs and the Kings, with both sides remaining stranded by coronavirus restrictions, and Krige hoped all domestic teams would soon be allowed to return to action.

“With our safety measures, it could have been expected, but at least there’s a possible Currie Cup they can look forward to,” he said.

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