‘Springboks face character test’

SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on what went wrong for the Boks against Ireland, the personnel changes Heyneke Meyer should make and the threat England pose.

OLLIE LE ROUX (former Bok prop)

'Everything went wrong for the Boks in Dublin. Ireland had a better plan, they were exceptionally well-coached and they punished the Boks' weaknesses. The Irish also showed much more hunger than the Boks and greater determination. As for personnel changes, I think Pat Lambie should replace Handré Pollard at 10 and Heyneke Meyer should recall Frans Steyn and slot him in at fullback. As for Saturday's Test against England, it's going to be a tough match. England will be well-prepared. They are going to be brutal with big collisions. The Boks were shocking at the breakdown against Ireland and will have to work hard on that area of the game if they want to compete with England.'

THINUS DELPORT (former Bok fullback and Sky Sports pundit)

'Ireland provided a great template for England on how to beat the Boks. Credit must go to Ireland for doing their research on South Africa. A combination of things led to the loss, but the ineffective driving maul and the decision to turn down easy points really hurt the Boks. Once Ireland took out the driving maul, maintained their physical defence and stopped the Boks from getting over the gainline, they couldn't re-adjust their focus to get back in the game. The substitutes brought renewed energy to the game – which was evident with that lovely JP Pietersen try – but by then it was too late. I'd be reluctant to make any changes to the team. There's no need to panic, this was the Boks' first defeat to northern hemisphere opposition in a long time and they showed their mental steel against the All Blacks at Ellis Park. Knee-jerk reactions from the selectors will perhaps satisfy the public, but it will cause panic within the team. Heyneke Meyer should stick with the same match-day squad this week, or as close as possible. The England game will be another physical tussle as they've always had a strong pack, but I believe the Boks will be better for it this week. On attack, [scrumhalf] Danny Care holds the biggest threat for the Boks with his darting runs and quick taps. If allowed any space, he'll expose the slow Bok defenders.'

JAMES DALTON (former Bok hooker)

'The fact that the contracted Boks were not allowed to play Currie Cup, showed against the Irish. They lacked competition fitness and the Irish exploited that. They were technically superior and intellectually better. It doesn't matter that the Boks were better at the set pieces, they lost. Ireland matched them physically, dominated the breakdowns and effectively neutralised the driving maul. It was not good to watch. Worryingly, Ireland won with a makeshift team, while that was the strongest possible Bok 23. As a former player, I don't like to call out players, but scrumhalf is an area of great concern for the Boks. They went into the match thinking they would win by default, just because they beat the All Blacks six weeks ago and look what happened. We've become a team and nation that dwells on the past too much. England ran the All Blacks close and have shown they are able to compete with southern hemisphere teams. If the Boks play like they did against Ireland, they will be swept aside at Twickenham. The Boks don't just face England on Saturday, they face a character test. Hopefully they are better prepared this week.'

KOBUS WIESE (former Bok lock)

'The Boks made too many basic errors in Dublin. They scrummed very well, but could not capitalise on their set-piece dominance. Because Francois Hougaard had a poor game, the wings did not get any good ball, but the weather played a part in that. Poor decision-making also cost the Boks. I can't understand why they turned down kickable penalties when chasing the game. I'd like Seabelo Senatla to make his debut against England, because he will be hungry to play and impress. Heyneke Meyer will be tempted to start with Sharks halfbacks Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach and I believe Schalk Burger at seven is another good option, as we'll need his experience and ball-carrying ability against the physical English.'

CORNÉ KRIGE (former Bok flank)

'A lot went wrong for the Springboks in Dublin. They didn't take their opportunities when handed to them, like refusing to take the three points when in Ireland territory. The team should remain unchanged for the match against England because as a coach you don't want to send out the wrong message by making wholesome changes, although I'd like to see JP Pietersen and Adriaan Strauss replacing Cornal Hendricks and Bismarck du Plessis. England pose a massive threat to South Africa. They showed their qualities against New Zealand on Saturday. The Boks will need to massively improve in order to beat England at Twickenham, which is going to be very tough.'

ADRIAN JACOBS (former Bok centre)

'Francois Hougaard and Handré Pollard really struggled on Saturday. They couldn't deliver the ball to the backline and launch attacks. In the first half, especially, Cornal Hendricks saw very little of the ball and that prevented him from attacking as he usually does. The team require something fresh. Maybe Heyneke Meyer should experiment with the players he has in the squad. Replace Jannie du Plessis with Coenie Oosthuizen and the Beast with Trevor Nyakane since the Sharks pair have started nearly every game of this season. If the Boks cannot slow down play on Saturday, they will have a tough day at the office. The physicality of the England team, especially in London in wet conditions, can result in the Boks struggling to gain the upper hand. But I believe the Boks can win.'

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Mariette Adams