England must learn from Lions’ mistakes against South Africa, says Tom Curry

Curry started all three British and Irish Lions Tests in South Africa

Duncan Bech
Wednesday 17 November 2021 22:00
<p>Curry started all three British and Irish Lions Tests in South Africa</p>

Curry started all three British and Irish Lions Tests in South Africa

Tom Curry has warned England to avoid repeating the British and Irish Lions’ tactical mistake of trying to fight fire with fire when they host South Africa on Saturday.

The Springboks conclude the Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham in a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final, when they emerged emphatic 32-12 winners with a victory founded on the dominance of their scrum.

In reference to that dispiriting afternoon in Yokohama, Eddie Jones has spoken of the need to face South Africa with a different gameplan when “fighting a George Foreman who can whack and whack and whack and whack”.

It was the approach taken by Warren Gatland’s Lions during the summer, when the world champions clinched a 2-1 series victory.

Curry started all three Tests and understands the risks attached to trying to meet South Africa’s strengths of a formidable set-piece, suffocating defence and a pinpoint kicking game head on.

“The Lions tour taught that you don’t play them at their own game – which is a lot of kicks and slowing the game down,” Curry said.

“You probably shoot yourselves in the foot if you get in that cycle with them because that’s what they want. We have to make sure we are clear about what we want to do.

“It’s relatively clear having seen them recently how they want to play. We’ve just got to make sure we’re confident in how we’re going to go against that.

“South Africa pride themselves on physicality, but at the same time there’s not loads to hit when the ball is in the air.

“It’s about getting that balance right, making sure we’re clear on our gameplan and how we want to get it done.

“They wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t good at what they do, but it’s going to be really exciting and we’re ready for the challenge.”

England failed to fire a shot in Yokohama two years ago as their glorious semi-final victory over New Zealand made way for a dismal no show against an inspired South Africa.

It stands as one of the low points in the nation’s rugby history, but Curry is not motivated by a desire for retribution.

“For us, in terms of ‘revenge’, we’ve got a new team, they have a new team. It’s not about avenging anything, it’s about winning,” the Sale forward said.

“I’ve not watched the final back and you don’t need to for emotions, either. This is one of the biggest games of the season. If that doesn’t get you up for it I don’t know what will.”

Jones on Thursday morning names his team for the climax to the autumn, with veteran flanker Courtney Lawes once again set to deputise as captain for Owen Farrell after the Saracens playmaker was ruled out by an ankle injury.

“I love Courtney. He’s got a lot of respect within the squad. Whatever he says carries a lot of weight,” Curry said.

“I’m excited the whole time, but Courtney brings that element of being calm, relaxed and the voice of reason. I love listening to him. He’s very reasoned. I think he’s brilliant.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in