Boks won't 'drop' their guard
Edinburgh – The Springboks prepared this week as if they will be facing their toughest opponents this year at Murrayfield on Saturday.
That was the assurance provided on Thursday by Bok tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis for anyone who fears that South Africa will drop their guard against Scotland, who were thrashed 49-3 by New Zealand at the weekend.
“That result will motivate Scotland for this weekend. As far as we’re concerned, we are preparing for a match against our best opponents this year,” said Du Plessis.
Du Plessis will also be on his toes for a different reason – he is convinced that props who talk up a game run a serious risk of getting a hiding the following Saturday. Even so, Springbok management requested him to do another round of media interviews this week.
“Maybe it’s a good thing because it will keep me on my toes. There is no chance of a comfort zone because every week that you talk you think ‘oh heck, here it comes again’!” said Du Plessis.
“I’m up against a good loosehead prop in Allan Jacobsen and there is always the possibility of a hiding. Hopefully it does not happen! You can get a hiding on any day if your mental preparation is not right.”
Jacobsen’s front row colleagues – hooker Ross Ford and tigthhead prop Euan Murray – both visited South Africa with the British and Irish Lions last year.
“Euan Murray would probably have started the second test for the Lions had he not been injured. It just goes to show how highly he is rated in Europe,” said Du Plessis.
“Jacobsen and Ford play together for Edinburgh and have performed well against some very good scrumming packs. So it’s the same old story of a big clash up front.”
The healthy perspective that South Africa are keeping on the weekend’s events is that Scotland’s big defeat against the All Blacks came in their first international since the tour of Argentina in June.
Scotland won the series in Argentina 2-0 and prior to that drew against England in the Six Nations and beat Ireland. Those games followed a defeat against Italy, so who knows which Scotland team will pitch on the day.
“I think their forwards played quite well against the All Blacks and a few tries were scored against the run of play. Scotland did well in the set phases,” said Du Plessis.
He also believes that veteran lock Nathan Hines will add value to Scotland playing on the flank.
“Hines is an intelligent player and offers them a good lineout option. He has played there for the British and Irish Lions, so it’s not unusual for him,” said Du Plessis.
“He also brings a lot of experience to the team and gives the players around him a lot of confidence. When we get an experienced player like that back it also boosts our confidence. He will certainly add an arrow to their quiver.”