Steven Kitshoff is licking his chops in anticipation of a wet-weather tour of Great Britain that showcases South Africa’s set-piece prowess.
The veteran scrum juggernaut can’t wait for the Springboks to lock horns with Britain’s best for the first time since the world champions repelled the British & Irish Lions to win the 2021 series 2-1. South Africa’s three-match tour consists of Tests against Wales (6 November), Scotland (13 November) and England (20 November).
“The game flows more when you play in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship,” Kitshoff told Rapport newspaper from Paris where the Boks have spent the past week preparing for the tour. “In the northern hemisphere, the scrums are tough, you play against big packs and you’re tested mentally and physically.”
The world champions passed both tests in their last match to beat New Zealand 31-29 on the Gold Coast and a key objective for the Boks on this tour is to prove they can carry that form in the conditions they’ll be faced with at the next World Cup.
Kitshoff is expected to make his 57th appearance for the Boks on Saturday when they square up against Wales in Cardiff.
The powerful loosehead came off the bench to beat Wales in the 2019 World Cup semi-final but has never beaten the Dragons at the Millennium Stadium, while the Boks have lost four in a row in Cardiff since 2013.
News that the roof will remain open has Kitshoff cracking his knuckles for an epic scrum battle and ready to draw on his experience of two seasons scrumming in the Top 14.
“The set pieces are an important part of the game in the northern hemisphere, especially if the weather does not play along,” he said. “Luckily, I played for Bordeaux in France for a while and I was also on a few end-of-year tours.
“As you get older, the experience you have gained over the years starts to count in your favour, because when it comes to strength, you can no longer compete with the young men in the gym.”
Kitshoff expects the recent experience of touring the Republic will motivate the contingent of defeated Lions in the Wales, Scotland and England packs.
“I think they will come with fire. They will take it personally. This will spice up the three Tests.”