England in SA

Boks leap into the unknown

2012-06-08 18:00
Bok locks (Gallo Images)
Durban - Whether South Africa can hit the ground running after a limited build up is the big unknown ahead of the first test against England in Durban on Saturday.

The Springboks will be playing their first match under new coach Heyneke Meyer and after just four training sessions together, they meet an England team who surprised in finishing second in this year's Six Nations.

Some of South Africa's lack of preparation will be off-set by a series of training camps Meyer conducted with the country's Super Rugby franchises in recent weeks and new captain Jean De Villiers was quick to play down any suggestions his team would be underprepared.

"The mood in the camp is good," De Villiers told a news conference on Friday.

"We have had a really good week of preparation.

"The camps that Heyneke had during the year with the franchises have really worked and we are reaping the rewards now."

Much has been made of the time the Springboks have been together before the series with most of the players involved with their franchises last weekend.

But England were not buying any perception South Africa could be caught short.

"They have had a couple of preparation camps and they have a coaching team that has worked together a lot," England forwards coach Graham Rowntree said.

"Will their limited game time together be an advantage for us? I'm not so sure. They have a lot of players who have played together for a long time."

England and South Africa find themselves in similar positions ahead of the series.

While Meyer will make his debut as South Africa's coach, his England opposite Stuart Lancaster is almost as raw with just five matches behind him and his captain, Chris Robshaw, is set to play in only his seventh international.

Both teams will be blooding players with openside flanker Marcell Coetzee and locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth winning their first caps for South Africa, while England hand debuts to loosehead prop Joe Marler and flanker Tom Johnson.

The hosts are a vastly experienced group with a starting line-up that boasts 458 test caps compared to England's 187, not that De Villiers was taking much notice.

"There are definitely a lot of similarities between the two teams in that they have a relatively new coach and captain as well," the 31-year-old said.

"But the fact of the matter is that they have played a couple of games together and Saturday will our first game together (under Meyer)."

Read more on:    england  |  springboks  |  england in sa  |  rugby


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