South Africa v England: Stuart Lancaster gets chance to show he is real deal

June 8th, 201211:19 pm @


“It’s a balance in being aware of the challenge but not of making the players
so anxious that there’s a fear of failure,” Lancaster said. “At their best,
South Africa are formidable. But we’ve got to go out and play. Getting the
mindset right has been a big part of our preparation.”

As the Lions found in 2009, even the most battle-hardened players are taken
aback by the ferocity and relentlessness of the Springbok approach. England
will need to conjure some of that famous rearguard spirit at some point

Even though there is much talk here of a new era in Springbok rugby, with a
change in coach and captain, and the blooding of a rookie second-row pairing
in Juandre Kruger and 20-year-old Eben Etzebeth, South Africa are far more
experienced than England, with 458 caps to 187. There is a core of Bulls
players there, from No 8 Pierre Spies through half-backs Francois Hougaard
and Morne Steyn to full-back Zane Kirchner, who will ensure a settled
wavelength on which the team can operate. You do not have to think too hard
to figure out the Springbok game plan: bash ’em, kick, chase and smash ’em.

it is fine being aware of it, it is quite another being able to deal with it.

England have responded by picking two full-backs at the rear, Mike Brown of
Harlequins with the usual wearer of the No 15 shirt, Ben Foden, switching to
wing. Even though Brown deserves a crack, moving Foden is a gamble. It will
be a class act if it comes off, wayward if it does not.

The coach’s boldness has brought returns before. His players are not daunted
by forbidding challenges. They showed that when winning three matches away
from home in the championship for the first time. Brown has a refreshingly
upbeat take on the prospect of balls raining down on him accompanied by the
thunder of pursuing Springbok boots.

“But that’s why you play full-back, to catch high balls, it’s what you want,”
said Brown, one of only three players in the England squad to have played in
South Africa, the home-born players notwithstanding.

The input of Durban-born, England centre Brad Barritt, has been considerable.
He faces seven Sharks players today alongside whom he won the Currie Cup
four years ago. England will have to be firm in midfield, Barritt the
rallying point for the youngsters alongside Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell at

South Africa have won the past seven games between the sides, a run that will
be extended if England do not manage to exert pressure up front. South
Africa expect the match to be decided by the kickers, with Morne Steyn a
proven performer in that regard. Farrell, young as he may be, has to stay
firm. If he does, England might well sneak it.

Article source: