Duane Vermeulen says England might be surprised by the Springboks’ tactical approach in the first Test of the series, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
The Boks have come in for some heavy criticism in the wake of their 22-20 defeat to Wales in Washington DC. On Monday, the local press in Johannesburg took aim at coach Rassie Erasmus and lamented the side’s tendency to kick and chase over the course of that match.
As many as 15 changes are expected ahead of the first Test against England, though. According to Erasmus and one of the team’s senior players, we could well witness a different approach at Ellis Park.
Last week, No 8 Billy Vunipola said that England knew what to expect from the South Africans. Vunipola commended their desire to dominate the set pieces and collisions, but also gave one the impression that the Boks are a limited beast that can be tamed.
Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Vermeulen said England and indeed the rugby world may be in for a shock in the coming weeks.
‘England might think that they know what to expect from us. There’s a lot of perceptions of what the “old style” of South African play is and what we are looking to do,’ he said. ‘Come Saturday, I think England might be surprised.’
The Boks haven’t beaten England since Heyneke Meyer’s side won at Twickenham in 2014. Vermeulen is one of the few survivors from that tour to the northern hemisphere. On that occasion, he completely outplayed his opposite number, Vunipola.
This Saturday, the Bok forwards will face a similar challenge with the likes of the Vunipolas, Joe Launchbury, and other heavy-hitters coming at them at the scrums, lineouts, and rucks.
‘They’ve got some big, powerful ball-carriers,’ said Vermeulen. ‘Mako and Billy are key players for them, they get England on the front foot and that’s what you’re looking for at Test level.
‘We’ll need to prepare for that. Personally, I hope that I get the chance to play against Billy. It will be a physical battle and I look forward to that sort of challenge.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 5, 2018
Photo: Gabriele Maltinti/Gallo Images