Johann van Graan (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok forwards coach Johann van Graan says they have the utmost respect for Samoa as they prepare for a Rugby World Cup clash against the island nation on Saturday.
The Springboks were humiliated in their first match of the tournament, losing 34-32 to Japan in Brighton last Saturday.
They are now fighting for survival in the tournament and know they cannot afford to slip up against Samoa this weekend.
The Springboks have never lost to Samoa in eight previous Tests, with the South Africans winning the last encounter 56-23 in Pretoria in 2013.
However, the last time the two nations clashed at a World Cup was in New Zealand four years ago when the Boks sneaked a 13-5 win.
Van Graan has given the assurance that the Boks will not be caught off guard on Saturday.
“Samoa is a fantastic team. We played them in 2013 at Loftus... they have some brilliant players,” he said at a press conference in Birmingham on Tuesday.
Van Graan singled out the Pisi brothers (Tusi, George and Ken), scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i, flank Jack Lam and prop Census Johnston as some danger men in the Samoan squad.
“They have some fantastic players, some physical players, (they’re) a well-coached team. I thought they did some really good things over the weekend (against USA). We’ve been watching them for a while.
“This is World Cup Rugby and like we experienced first-hand, there are no weak teams in this competition. It’s week for week, game for game. We’re playing against Samoa and we respect them and it’s going to be a tough 80 minutes.”
The Springboks will name their team on Wednesday, with Saturday’s clash at Villa Park scheduled for 17:45 (SA time).