Boks hope to improve scrum
Jannie du Plessis (Gallo)
Hazyview - Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis says the hosts are aiming for an improved scrum on opposition ball when they take on Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday.
South Africa's scrums buckled under pressure at times against Italy in Durban last week, but it was of no serious concern in the Springbok camp.
“On our ball we were effective and we achieved what we wanted, but we can still improve on their ball,” Du Plessis said on Tuesday.
“In the second half there was a patch of play where one mistake led to another. In that 15 minutes there were two scrums which we didn't execute well on their ball.
“There is always room for improvement and we will have to work hard on their scrum and we’ll have to scrum as a unit.”
He said the backline, nevertheless, had attacking opportunities from their scrums and the Boks put pressure on the Italian scrum.
While the Springboks relished the opportunity to make amends for some mistakes at scrum time last week, they could be robbed of such a chance with a spate of injuries to Scotland's front row.
Scotland had to postpone Tuesday’s team announcement to Thursday after a string of injuries, and it emerged that Geoff Cross was the second prop to be ruled out of the four-nation series.
Hooker Pat MacArthur had also been sent home due to injury, while prop Ryan Grant left the team due to a call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad in Australia.
This left the Scots with only three fit props in Moray Low, Alasdair Dickinson and Jon Welsh, while there was uncertainty over the availability of Euan Murray.
Du Plessis, however, still believed the Boks would face a tough challenge in the scrums.
“Scotland has a very good scrum and when we played against them last year they were very good,” he said.
“It will of course be a big challenge and that is why it is Test rugby, because you get tested every weekend. There isn't a weekend that you just pitch up and everything is plain sailing.
"Scotland has an experienced pack of forwards that scrum well and it is going to be a tough challenge.”
Meanwhile, Du Plessis said he relished the responsibility of being a senior member of the team and felt the new players brought some energy to the SA squad.
“It is a very strange transition if you still feel like one of the young guys, but if you compare yourself with someone like Lappies Labuschagne then you know you've been around the block and you have to take a bit more responsibility.
“It is incredible how the young guys can give you energy and how they can ignite that fire in you and you don’t want to let them down.
“You know they are young guys and they are here for the first time and you want their experience of the Springbok camp to be something they will never forget.”