England in SA
Mallett expects conservative SA
Nick Mallett (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett expects the Springboks to take a conservative approach in their three-Test series against England next month out of necessity.
The first Test for new coach Heyneke Meyer and his team comes just seven days after two intense Super Rugby derbies between the top-of-the-conference Stormers and Bulls and the Sharks against the Lions.
"I pity Heyneke because it's going to be very hard trying to prepare a team for a Test one week after those derbies, while England will have two weeks' preparation," Mallett told reporters on Wednesday.
"He has to win all three Tests in order to buy himself some time to develop his philosophy. I believe Heyneke's mantra will be execution above innovation and it will be a very conservative team and game plan.
"He'll be happy to win 25-18 with a handful of penalties, a drop goal and a breakaway try."
Mallett, who was a leading contender to take the England coaching job after the end of his contract with Italy, said the visitors should not be underestimated.
"I would not be surprised if England sneak a game. They're a very strong team, they're bringing an air of confidence out of the Six Nations, as the tournament developed, so did they," he said.
"They're scoring tries and they're really well coached. Stuart Lancaster needed to bring pride back to the country and the jersey and he did that by picking the youngsters.
"He's given England the ability to counter-attack and they can hurt the Springboks,"
The first Test will be played in Durban on June 9 followed by Tests in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. England have won three and lost seven Tests in South Africa.