Buoyed by victory over Argentina, Grant Gilchrist, the Scotland lock, is viewing Saturday’s Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth with excitement, not trepidation.
The tourists are encouraged by results so far but know that facing South Africa on their own patch is by far the toughest assignment they have faced since the current coaching regime took over at the start of the month.
Gilchrist, who will be leading Scotland for the second time, said: “Playing against South Africa, the No 2 side in the world, is exciting. It is always good to go against these players who have been there and done it, and you can test yourself against the best.
“Argentina [who Scotland beat last weekend] was a big test up front and we came through that pretty well. There are areas of the game that disappointed us but we are just looking to improve and we need to do that this weekend. We know South Africa at home is massive, we are just looking at ourselves and how we can improve.”
The Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth is close to selling out, and local organisers are confident it will be full for the game. There is, however, an experimental look to both sides, with the English and French clubs’ refusal to release players costing the Scots 12 men from the squad that started the tour in the USA; the Springboks, who have had to send seven back to Europe, are also affected.
This partly accounts for the fact that both sides have only eight members of the squad which faced each other in Nelspruit a year ago still on duty.
Scotland gave their hosts an almighty scare but could not close out the win, and Gilchrist said: “Last year the guys that played did really well and defended at an intensity that we know we need to match – if we don’t we won’t be giving ourselves a chance.”
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