Springbok captain Warren Whiteley says his side are expecting a fierce physical response from France in the crucial second Test on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Durban.
France coach Guy Novès has made sweeping changes ahead of the game at Kings Park. A host of Clermont and Toulon players – who were not available for the series-opener in Pretoria – have been pushed straight into the starting lineup. The talk from the tourists is that they will be going all out to win the gainline battle in order to deny the Boks a series-clinching win.
Meanwhile, a few kilometres up the road, the Boks have spoken about maintaining the standard that was set at Loftus Versfeld. On Friday, Whiteley said that the Bok team would concentrate on their own processes, rather than focus on the opposition or even the possibility of claiming a much-needed series victory.
‘That would be great, but to be honest, it hasn’t even been mentioned,’ the Bok captain said. ‘All the focus this week has been on ourselves. We’ve spoken a lot about maintaining the intensity of last week, because we know they are going to be a lot more physical at Kings Park.
‘I suppose you could say it’s going to be a nice challenge for us now that all those players are back [for France]. We can see how we go and where we are as a team. I’m glad to say that we’ve prepared well this week and should be up to that contest.’
The dangerous France backs will come into play if the forwards win the set-piece and gainline battles. Novès has backed the likes of Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa and Yoann Huget to start in the second Test, but has also introduced Baptiste Serin, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damian Penaud and Scott Spedding to the starting lineup for the first time on this tour.
Whiteley suggested that the Boks were expecting the unexpected from the France back division.
‘France do kick well, and I’m sure they will try to test us with a few kicks behind [the defensive line]. That said, we were breached out wide a few times last week, and have been working hard to rectify that. They may target us there again.
‘We know they will pose both a kicking and running threat. For example, I played a lot of my junior rugby with Scott [in Durban] and I know he likes to run the ball. All those players are very good at summing up the situation and making decisions, so we will have to be ready for that.’
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