VIDEO: You can't put these Scots in a 'box'
PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP: South Africa are happy to continue ‘grinding out’ wins, even if they are by the narrowest of margins.
However, they may have to be a bit more flexible when they tackle Scotland in Edinburgh this week.
The World Cup holders ended a poor run in the Rugby Championship with back-to-back wins that saw them challenge New Zealand for the No.1 world ranking again.
The Springboks edged the New Zealand (31-29) in the last match of the Rugby Championship and Wales (23-18) in the opening match of their year-end tour.
It leaves them just 0.02 ranking points behind the All Blacks on the global standings.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber said the margin and nature of those last two wins is not the big issue.
Nienaber reiterated a previously stated fact that Wales are the current Six Nations champions. They are also loaded with the star power and experience of a host of British and Irish Lions players.
“They are a quality team and away from home you will have to grind out a win,” the Bok coach said of a victory that ended an eight-year drought in Cardiff.
Turning to the upcoming game against Scotland, at Murrayfield on Saturday, he said they expect another bruising arm-wrestle.
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Nienaber pointed out that in their last seven games – the Six Nations and two year-end Tests – Scotland lost just twice.
Those defeats were by one point (24-25) to Wales and by three points (24-27) to Ireland. They beat England, France and now Australia, all this year.
“We are facing quality teams [on this year-end tour],” the Bok coach said.
He added that it is no longer a given that Southern Hemisphere teams will have comfortable wins on their year-end trips to the north.
“If it is in conditions like we played last Saturday, where it was raining from start to finish [on Cardiff], it is going to be another grind.
“When they have all their internationals, it is quality opposition we are facing.”
Nienaber said that while Scotland to have a propensity towards a more expansive game than Wales, his selections were driven by other factors.
The return of veteran Willie le Roux at fullback is as a result of the concussion suffered by Damian Willemse last week.
Elton Jantjies for Handre Pollard at flyhalf and Franco Mostert for Lodewyk de Jager at lock are purely ‘rotation’.
Nienaber admitted they will face a very different challenge against a Scottish team that has both a great kicking game and the ability to play an attacking brand.
“If you look at their No.9, their No.10 and their No.15, you face B&I Lions players,” he told @rugby365com.
“They have very experienced game drivers.
“They can rip us apart with their attack or go to a kicking game.”
The Bok coach pointed to Scotland’s Six Nations win over England in the Six Nations as an example of how they can utilise the kicking gamer.
“They kicked 43 times, which is the most kicks I have seen from them,” Nienaber said.
“We will have to be alert to whatever tactics they decide to use against us,” he added.