The great 'equaliser' Boks must deal with
South Africa will face some vastly different challenges on their three-Test year-end tour – not just in terms of the opposition, but also the conditions.
The Boks face Wales in Cardiff (November 6), Scotland in Edinburgh (November 13) and England in London (November 20).
In Cardiff they are likely to play under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium, followed by the exposed pitch of Murrayfield in Edinburgh and a week later run out on the famous Twickenham turf in their final tour outing.
With some inclement weather during their week-long stay for a training camp in Paris, the South African-based members of the squad had a taste of the conditions they will face in the next three weeks.
“We are starting to get used to the conditions,” veteran Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff told a virtual media briefing ahead of the opening match of the trip.
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“We know what style of rugby we want to play and we already have the alignment between the players and management.
“When the ball is a bit wet, we know we can’t throw it around too much.
“We will probably go with the aerial contest and try to win the ball back in that way.
“The weather will suit us, but it will also suit the Northern Hemisphere teams – who are used to this and have played in these conditions for years.”
Kitshoff, 29 and capped 56 times by his country, said in those conditions the set pieces are an important part of the game.
“There will be a lot of scrum opportunities,” the burly front row forward said.
“We are not going to change much in our preparation and how we di things,” he said, adding that they will have to make some minor adjustments.
His two-year stint with French outfit Bordeaux, 2015 to 2017, and a couple of year-end tours with South Africa have prepared Kitshoff for the challenges of playing up north.
“It is a different ball game,” he said of the set pieces, adding: “It is long scrums, tough scrums against big packs.
“You get tested mentally and physically.”
He added that they also had a taste of what to expect in Cardiff this coming Saturday, given their experience with how the Cape Town Stadium’s soccer pitch cut up in the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions in July and August.
“The [Cardiff] pitch is a bit loose underfoot and we will go into [our preparation] with that in mind – in the way we set up and the way we attack at scrum time.
“We can’t take the scrum too low, it will just collapse.
“We will make the adjustments that will benefit us and hopefully ensure we get the dominance and momentum that we are looking for in the scrum battle.”
Kitshoff played the first of his 56 Tests against Ireland in Port Elizabeth in June 2016 and came off the bench if the Rugby Championship win over New Zealand on the Gold Coast earlier this month.