England will be better in second test
ENGLAND will be a better side in the second test than they were in the first.
This was the less-than-optimistic prognosis yesterday from part-time physician in the Springbok team, Jannie du Plessis.
"I don't think you have to be a brain surgeon to know England will want to do better," Du Plessis said. "That's the thing about a three-test series. You have an opportunity to rectify things.
"A week in rugby is a very long time. You can be on top of the world and a week later you can be knocked off. It will be a massive test at the weekend."
Although the Bok pack ruled in the second half in Durban, Du Plessis was not reading too much into it. Prop forwards are wary of riling their opponents.
"I don't think it was a case of them not wanting to scrum," Du Plessis said. "They were the dominant scrum in the Six Nations and the best in Europe. We are very fortunate all eight guys played well together.
"I've learnt through experience once you think you've got one over someone, you find the quickest way back to earth."
England hooker Dylan Hartley believes his team's forwards matched the Springboks, an assertion Du Plessis, given his bias towards caution, quickly concurred with.
Springbok forwards coach Johann van Graan shared Du Plessis' caution. "They counter-rucked really well and were able to halt our maul," he said.
Du Plessis's effort was rated by Heyneke Meyer as his best in a Bok jersey. Again Du Plessis went all coy. "I was lucky I was seen a bit more. I think we did really well as a team," he said. "I wouldn't say it was my best game but, rather, a good team effort."
He did acknowledge that the Bok eight packs a bigger punch thanks to recent acquisitions. "Pieter de Villiers (the scrumming coach) has really brought in some new ideas and new exercises which, I think, made a massive difference.
"He used little technical exercises, like fitness drills and where to position feet; all those little things add up to a big difference."
The Boks suffered a setback yesterday when Coenie Oosthuizen was ruled out of the series with a "mildly bulging disc".
He hurt it while substituting at tighthead in the first test - but not before leaving his mark.
"He made a big difference. I don't think it's a secret Coenie is one of the best ball-carrying props in world rugby," Du Plessis said.