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Jon Cardinelli

Boks will start as ‘hot favourites’


What the Scottish newspapers are saying What the Scottish newspapers are saying

What the Scottish papers are saying ahead of Sunday's Test at Murrayfield.

It's been a low-key build-up in Edinburgh over the past two days. After a long and gruelling rugby year, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has seen fit to adjust the training schedule which is why the team didn't train on Monday or Tuesday. Yesterday, many of the players could be seen wandering down the High Street, taking in the magnificent views and admiring the unique architecture of the Scottish capital.

The Scotland media is clearly encouraged by their team's attacking display against Japan, but realise the Boks will present a very different challenge. Even if the Boks make a number of changes this week, which Meyer has confirmed will be the case, there is a sense from the local press that South Africa will be too strong for Scotland.

'Springboks are far less predictable, warns Taylor' is the headline for the main rugby piece in The Scotsman. David Ferguson speaks to Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor about the looming battle against the Boks. Taylor believes South Africa are capable of switching between a 'Plan A and a Plan B' referring to the traditional approach and one that is more expansive. Taylor remembers the previous game between the two sides in Nelspruit, where Scotland dominated at the breakdowns and collisions, but realises that the Boks won't be as complacent this time around.

'The back division looks settled but forwards planning not so easy' writes Allan Massie in his column for the same newspaper. Massie points to the shaky defence of Scotland in their most recent clash with Japan and warns that South Africa will be even more dangerous on attack. While he is not certain of how the Scotland pack will fare against that of the Boks, he is hopeful that a much improved backline will ask a few questions of the South African defence. 'South Africa will undoubtedly start as hot favourites,' he writes. 'We should assume that South Africa will score a try or two, and, consequently, to beat them you have to score tries yourself. This means that a bit of audacity is most certainly needed ...' Massie adds that it's important that centre Matt Scott recovers from his hand injury, as he will be a key man for the hosts on attack.

The Herald has focused on the one Scot in the South African ranks, namely breakdown specialist Richie Gray. Heyneke Meyer brought Gray into the Bok coaching group earlier this year, and on Monday defence coach John McFarland praised Gray for his input. Stuart McAllister writes in The Herald that it's a good to see a Scot involved with a top Test side, as 'Scottish coaches have not exactly been the hottest ticket in town when it comes to filling top-level vacancies.' The headline reads 'South Africans reaping the rewards of Scottish labour' which is fair enough, but the caption under a photograph of Gray holding a tackle bag is a howler: 'Richie Gray's Rhino scrummaging machine is now a familiar sight on rugby training grounds'. Clearly the subs of this newspaper haven't seen a scrum machine before. Or a tackle bag.

The Scottish Daily Mail has also run an article about Gray, calling him 'a vital cog in the slick South African machine'. The writer Rob Robertson also looks back to the game in Nelspruit and notes how the Boks have improved over the past few months at the breakdown.

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