England in SA
Morné 'kicks goals for fun'
Morné Steyn (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Pinning back Morné Steyn and the rest of the Springbok kickers will be a key task for England as they try to level the three-Test series at Coca-Cola Park here on Saturday.GALLERY: Springboks v England: Match-ups
So says Toby Flood, the experienced flyhalf restored to a starting berth by the tourists at the expense of Owen Farrell - his first opportunity in that capacity since Stuart Lancaster took charge of the national side.
The 26-year-old, closing in on 50 caps for England, said at a press briefing on Thursday: “We don’t want to give them good field position at altitude, with (opposite number) Morné Steyn kicking goals for fun ... we must give them no shots if we can.
“It’s looking as if South Africa will kick a lot, with all the resources they’ve got, and kick well. They’re obviously more used to how far the ball travels up here. We’ve got to nullify that kicking game as much as possible.”
Flood says the initial goal will be to get through the first quarter of play safely while acclimatising to the thin air.
“The first 20 minutes might be interesting, having chatted to some of the boys who played on Wednesday (in Kimberley) and found the lungs burning a bit!
“We’ll try to get through that early period, manage those first 20 to 30 minutes, and hopefully kick on from there, playing in an aggressive but pragmatic way.
“We will draw promise from those closing minutes in Durban (when England scored a well-manufactured last-gasp try by Ben Foden) - but then of course they probably take heart from their second half generally, when they played tremendously well.
“We’ll have a crack; we found last weekend that we sort of came to light in the last 10 minutes and decided to play a bit.
“That was important for us. Going toe to toe with the South Africans is very, very difficult. They’re a physical bunch and they play a type of rugby which can be very expansive at times but is also on the back of a huge amount of momentum.
“Knowing Heyneke (Meyer) from his stewardship (at Flood’s club Leicester Tigers) you know he wants that momentum before he releases any ‘play’.
“I may live to rue my words, but we believe they’ll be momentum-based first, but if we can shift their bigger guys around maybe there’ll be an opportunity to get some good points on the board.”
Asked about his responsibility of shepherding Manu Tuilagi in his slightly less familiar role now of inside centre alongside him, Flood said: “I guess the main challenge will be not to let Manu demand the ball every three seconds and want to run over people! He’ll be fine; he knows his own game better than anybody.
“I’ll chat during the game and try to take a bit of pressure off his and (debutant outside centre) Jonathan Joseph’s shoulders, even if just with a smile and wink at times - early on in a Test career you can over-think things, over-worry, and fear making a mistake.”Teams:South Africa:
15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger , 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Bjorn BassonEngland:
15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 David Strettle, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler
Substitutes: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Owen Farrell, 22 Alex Goode*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing