England coach Eddie Jones acknowledged that the Springboks deserved to win the recent series but that his team were also returning to their best.
South Africa claimed a 2-1 win in the three-Test series after winning the first two Tests in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein 42-39 and 23-12 respectively.
England turned the tables in Cape Town winning the final Test 25-10 in soaking conditions at Newlands.
“It was a great series‚ which was healthy for Test rugby‚” Jones said.
“We faced a revitalised‚ well-coached Bok team that has a great balance of players.
“The Boks were really good in the first two Tests‚ and deserved the series win‚ but there were such small margins in all of these Tests.
“I feel better than I did on the first two weekends but that only lasts for about three or four hours. Then you’re back on the treadmill again.
“We would like to play the Boks again next week‚ though‚” Jones said with a twinkle in his eye.
“We’re hitting our peak now‚ so we’re trying to organise a game at Twickenham for next Saturday.
“There are some bloody good young players here‚ who were always going to come together and perform.
“South Africa has great depth of talent‚ and some very good youngsters coming through. Rassie has done a really good job‚ and a couple of early wins will serve the Boks well.
“If you compare the Boks now to where they were not that long ago‚ they are working much harder off the ball‚ their maul is strong – which is a traditional strength – while they can also spread the ball into space and make good gains with players like Willie le Roux joining the line.
“They’ll just get stronger‚ and could certainly be World Cup contenders.”
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus seemed surprised when he heard Jones called his team World Cup contenders‚ especially after the Bok mentor described his own team as ‘terrible’.
“He said that now did he?” Erasmus asked in the wake of his team’s heavy loss when told of Jones’ comments.
“There are a lot of teams that will have a good chance [at the World Cup] next year. England are definitely one of them when you consider how they’ve come back and won here [at Newlands]‚ while I think we were terrible today‚ to be honest.
‘We’ve got quite a balancing act to conduct as we build towards the World Cup‚ such as managing players and learning from experiences like this [the loss to England]. Of course‚ if we can get it right‚ we should be in with a chance because we do have the players.
“But there’s a lot of work to do‚ and we need to succeed in ensuring we have a fresh‚ balanced and experienced squad to take to the World Cup.”