England to prove toughest test for Boks on this tour, says coach

2010-11-25 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers believes that England have the strongest scrum in world rugby and says that the set piece battle will decide Saturday’s Test at Twickenham.

A week ago it was Scotland who were talking up the South Africans ahead of the Test at Murrayfield, but the roles have been reversed and the Springboks have spent the week praising their English opponents.

Perhaps South Africa are also playing mind games, but both De Villiers and Matfield were determined to highlight the threat posed by the English pack.

“What makes England dangerous is that they are definitely the best scrumming team in world rugby,” said De Villiers. “They have annihilated everyone they have played against in recent times and have developed dramatically since Martin Johnson took over as manager.”

De Villiers said that, like the Springboks, the English take enormous pride in their first-phase play.

“As we saw against Scotland, we look very mediocre when our set piece is not working,” added De Villiers.

“They are very direct in their approach and they make metres with the ball. They keep the ball through the phases and, if we let them take the ball off us, we are in for a very long afternoon.”

Matfield agreed and said that the Springboks had to stop the English building momentum by dominating the contact points.

While the experienced South African second-row of Matfield and Bakkies Botha should provide them with the edge in the lineouts, the Bok captain is not taking England’s jumpers lightly.

“They have done well and their lineout has been functioning smoothly,” said Matfield. “They also have a loose forward Tom Croft, who is very good in the lineouts.”

Matfield said that England had also shown, in thumping Australia 10 days ago, that they can put width on the ball.

However, with freezing weather along with rain and even snow forecast for the next few days, it is unlikely the conditions will encourage an expansive approach.

“So much depends on the conditions” said Matfield. “You have to play the weather. Our execution at Murrayfield was poor and we did not keep the ball on attack. We will have to do that if we are to put England under any pressure.

“A full Twickenham will ensure that this is the toughest Test of the tour for us,” said De Villiers.

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