Former All Blacks wing Joe Rokocoko labelled the Springboks as“ruthless bullies” in an interview with Sport24. He also added that he supported the Springboks to win the 2019 World Cup after the All Blacks lost their semifinal against England.
Rokocoko hung up his boots last year at the Top 14 club Racing 92, where he is part of the coaching staff. He played against the Springboks 15 times between 2003 and 2010. Rokocoko scored nine of his 68 test tries against the Springboks.
“It was one match I made sure my preparation was on point. When you faced the Springboks you had to be up for it both mentally and physically because if you weren’t, you would get bullied,” Rokocoko told Sport24.
“You would get chucked around and physically dominated if you didn’t bring your physical presence to match South Africa. As All Blacks, we always prided ourselves on the tests against the Springboks, which were the pinnacle."
“Mentally, you also had to be attuned and we would say to ourselves, ‘Ok, we are going to play against the giants’. Once you stepped onto that field there was no holding back."
“Yes, sometimes people said we should be the favourites but a few times we felt like the underdogs in terms of size and passion. We had to reach another level to match the Springbok forward pack. What I will always remember about facing the Boks are the high balls I had to field."
“But the thing that stands out the most is the respect we had for each other. The Boks were ruthless and bullies on the field but off the field, they were just genuine people to hang around with.”