Joel Stransky: Ireland Tour a massive milestone for Rassie and the Boks

Joel Stransky: Ireland Tour a massive milestone for Rassie and the Boks

Springbok great Joel Stransky reckons this year's two-match Test series between the Springboks and Ireland will go a long way towards identifying who the best side in the world is.

With Ireland once again dominating this year's Six Nations, many are crowning them as the new kings of rugby, but while Stransky was full of praise for Andy Farrell and his side, he's not quite ready to follow suit.

"There's no doubt they're a great side and are still growing," said the man whose golden boot settled the 1995 World Cup final. "They are the real deal, I love watching them.

"Their line-up is formidable, they play fast, they use the width of the field and every player is a skilful ball handler, each capable of cleaning out and rucking, carrying and running into space, offloading out the tackle and making great decisions.

"It's quite unique. I don't think any other team in the world plays quite like it and, rightly, they're one of the top two teams in the game.

"But I think we will judge them when they come to South Africa."

Stransky's reservation is based partly on the patchy overall quality of this year's Six Nations tournament.

"Down here we look at it at the moment and see England evolving, still trying to work out where they are going," he said.

"Scotland are playing above their weight in many ways, but France without Dupont are not the French team they were in the build up to the World Cup.

"So we see Ireland and we're not sure whether they've stepped up or everyone else has just come back a yard."

Ireland have definitely had the edge over the Boks in recent years, winning the last three in a row and five of the last seven, but they have still to reach a first World Cup semi-final whereas South Africa are back-to-back champions.

"There's definitely some ambiguity around who the best team in the world is," Stransky said.

"To be the best you've got to be the best consistently - and Ireland have probably been that.

"But to win the World Cup you have to be great in the great moments, when it really counts, and that's what we did."

All this and more is what makes the two upcoming Tests between the nations in Pretoria and Durban in July so massive.

"That Ireland tour is a massive milestone for Rassie Erasmus, for Siya Kolisi, for this Springbok team," Stransky added.

"It is a chance to really say, you know, we won the Rugby World Cup. Yes we won the last few games by one point, yes, we were a little fortunate, but we are a great side and we are going to prove it.

"The series will maybe not quite carry the prestige of a World Cup but it will be as important to both teams in terms of their reputation and their goals.

"Both will be out to absolutely prove they are number one in the world."

Ireland must first get past England and Scotland, who would also be unbeaten but for the hugely contentious 'no-try' ruling in favour of France at Murrayfield.

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