Well-prepared England a big test for Boks
THE Springboks' success in their three-test series against England will be determined by their ability to cope with the pressure that comes from playing at home with everybody expecting you to win.
England will come here with nothing to lose so all the pressure will be on Heyneke Meyer and his team.
In 2000, when I was still the Springbok coach, we were going through a rebuilding phase and lost a test in Bloemfontein to a good England side that went on to win the World Cup.
The Springboks have to be 100% ready mentally, physically and in their discipline because this is a well-rounded England team. They have an excellent scrum, with Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole in the front row.
They are really solid and they are able to exert a lot of pressure on the opposition's throw.
At lineouts they have four good options, even though Tom Croft is injured. In the back row they have a good mix and they have depth.
The captain, Chris Robshaw, is no show pony. He is a grafter who puts in a high tackle count. He is unflappable and has a rapport with referees.
England were quite undisciplined before he became captain, but have cleaned up their act at the ruck.
They are also very disciplined in the way they defend.
In the Six Nations, they brought in a policy of blanket defence and not contesting too much at the breakdown.
They used one tackler, one guy slowing the ball down, while the others fanned out, which is very similar to what the Stormers do.
They get off the line incredibly quickly. They get turnovers from opposition knock-ons as a result of a good defensive system, as a opposed to trying to steal the ball on the ground.
There is a bit of a South African context to it because Andy Farrell (former assistant coach) played under Brendan Venter at Saracens.
They use pressure defence, as I like to call it, as opposed to rush defence.
If you play a fairly predictable pattern, that defence is quite effective.
They know there will be a couple of forwards running around the corner so they'll close down that space very quickly and pin you behind the advantage line and dominate the contact point. That's why you need some variety in your attack.
Brad Barritt provides the core of their backline organisation on defence. England had the Saracens combination of Owen Farrell and Barritt at 10 and 12 in the Six Nations and they were effective.
They have to try to match South Africa's physicality in the backs and that's why they'll go with Manu Tuilagi at outside centre.
I'd go with a physical scrumhalf and then they can match the South African backs physically.
Tuilagi is a big, aggressive ball carrier. They also have good counter-attackers at the back with Charlie Sharples, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton. It's a well-rounded side and they play with confidence.
England play very conservative rugby. They kick the ball up to about the halfway line from their 22 from first phase. They box kick a lot with their scrumhalf and they put up a good chase.
They'll attack off turnovers. If they get a turnover around their 10m line inside their half, they'll have a proper crack.
They'll set up lineouts inside your territory and will vary between drives, going off the top with some variation by attacking the 10 channel and peeling forwards.
They are well prepared for this tour and the Boks will have to be very, very careful.