Springboks great Carel du Plessis says South Africa must continue their strong relationship with New Zealand to stay at the forefront of the world game.
A star wing and former Springboks coach, Du Plessis believes New Zealand sets many of the trends and South Africa benefits from that close relationship.
His views come as South Africa’s participation in Super Rugby looks to be coming to an end with increasing speculation they will take their provincial game north to the big European championships which operate in a more convenient time zone.
The All Blacks and Springboks have both won the World Cup three times, a by-product of their intense rivalry that has only increased in the professional era.
“In my humble opinion, I still believe our best bet is to stay right where we are,” Du Plessis told Sport24.
"Without taking away any of our achievements, the New Zealanders remain at the forefront of innovation in the game. We've seen it with Super Rugby Aotearoa, which seems like a nice product.
"You're almost guaranteed to learn something new every season from them. There's a level of expertise that we wouldn't be exposed to in other regions.
“I believe we would still want our players' abilities to be gauged by their standards. That's where the excitement lies.”
Du Plessis suggested a few tweaks might be better than hitting the eject button as New Zealand and Australia also eye a different pathway to combat the travel complications presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We all understand that Super Rugby's appeal has been waning these past few years, but that's a multi-faceted issue. Perhaps it's more about re-examining the competition structure than anything else."
Du Plessis warned that “the grass might not be always greener” and their current teams in Europe’s PRO14 competition, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, hadn’t exactly set that championship alight. - Stuff