South Africa are steeling themselves to face an England pack regimented by “one of the best forwards coaches in the world” at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Springbok forwards coach, Johann van Graan, hailed his England counterpart, Graham Rowntree, for creating a “world-class scrum”, while calling on South Africa to sharpen up after their 29-15 defeat in Ireland.
Van Graan said that his head coach, Heyneke Meyer, had led several Springbok fact-finding missions to England, where the two sets of coaches have traded ideas and forged lasting friendships.
“Graham Rowntree is one of the best forwards coaches in the world and a good friend of mine,” said Van Graan, who doubles as South Africa’s attack coordinator. “We’re much bigger than just ourselves and just this Test match, it’s about the game, and what a fantastic coaching group [England] have, and they are good friends of ours.”
South Africa dominated territory and possession in Dublin on Saturday but lost owing to handling errors and a yellow card for replacement hooker Adriaan Strauss.
Ireland’s physicality and technical nous caught the Springboks out, with Van Graan admitting that their refusal to bind on an early maul had been a “shock”.
South Africa may parachute in Patrick Lambie at fly-half, ahead of the fast-rising Handre Pollard. Meyer wants his 2015 World Cup squad all but nailed down by the end of this tour and is intent on giving players opportunities to impress.
Van Graan refused to blame the Springboks’ half-back duo of Pollard and Francois Hougaard for Saturday’s loss.
“As a team we made some errors in Ireland that we’ve now got to fix,” he said. “It starts with the carry and presentation, and sometimes the half-back gets the criticism when the presentation’s not up to scratch. We’ll take responsibility as a team.”Reuse content