Joel Stransky knows a thing or two about winning the Rugby World Cup and the former South Africa fly-half believes Wales’ quest to do exactly that will end this weekend
An injury-depleted Wales side qualified as runners-up in Pool A last week, as Australia held out to top the group leaving England to miss out on the quarter-finals altogether.
And former Bok fly-half Joel Stransky, whose dramatic drop-goal clinched the World Cup title for South Africa in 2005, believes his countrymen will progress – spurred on by their youthful contingent which include Jesse Kriel, Damien de Allende, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager.
“I think it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Wales have shown enormous character and determination in the last few weeks and to have pushed Australia so close – they could have won that game.
“But there is a part of me that thinks they have played two massive games and to sustain that type of effort is going to be tough.
“South Africa have had a longer rest and they have built some good momentum. They have shown great character to come back from what was a shocking defeat. Good teams don’t become bad teams overnight.
“I think they have got better and, most importantly, I think some of the youngsters have come through and done well.
“I have no doubt that on the field of play, taking away the experience factor, they are capable of delivering more than the older guys.”
Stransky is on the shores for the World Cup and took the time on Thursday to stop in at Allianz Park for a session with Saracens’ award-winning HITZ programme, after an invitation from one of the project’s partners – Barclays.
HITZ tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment – and gives them the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment.
Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, HITZ uses rugby to increase young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence.
And Stransky, who watched the 16-to-18-year-old students take part in a rugby session before answering their questions, clearly enjoyed the outing.
“I have been chatting to some of the kids and talking to them about some of the lessons sport can teach you about life,” he added.
“I have a charity in South Africa, the LumoHawk Foundation, and a lot of what we do is around underprivileged children and getting kids off the streets. This is quite similar in many ways in using sport as a conduit. This fits in nicely with that ethos.
“It is very rewarding helping kids who had come from difficult backgrounds – it’s inspiring.”