Lood de Jager believes the Boks will need to be at their absolute best at lineout time against England during the World Cup final on Saturday.
The Boks have had arguably the most-organised set piece at the tournament thus far, having lost just one lineout across six matches during the campaign. That error came during last Sunday’s tense semi-final victory over Wales.
The Bok lock, who was voted SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2015 off the back of a strong World Cup campaign four years ago, has again delivered for his side in Japan and will be aiming for another strong showing against Eddie Jones’ England.
The 26-year-old will likely come up against workhorses Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes in an intriguing second-row battle, and De Jager is expecting a tough challenge from the English locks during the decider.
‘They have competed very well in every single game in the World Cup so far,’ said De Jager. ‘They have three world-class locks that are really good in the lineouts.
‘For us, it is about preparing as well as we can. We know they are going to come with a good plan, so it’s going to be [about] whichever team can enforce their plan better on the opposition on the day.’
Meanwhile, assistant coach Matt Proudfoot says he was particularly impressed by England’s dominant performance in their victory over the All Blacks. He feels the Boks will have to step up to the challenge to match Eddie Jones’ side in terms of intensity.
‘They were very efficient and very powerful against New Zealand, and were probably the trendsetters,’ said the Bok forwards coach. ‘For us to match that intensity, it’s something we’ve spoken about.
‘They were really good, and I don’t think it was just brute force – there was a lot of intelligent play, very effective play from their pack. I was very impressed with what I saw, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us to meet that.’
Proudfoot says the team will use the knowledge gained from last year’s encounters with England in preparation for what is expected to be a physical confrontation with the imperious English pack.
‘We’ve played them four times in the last 18 months, and it’s been 2-2,’ added Proudfoot. ‘They were the victors in the last two, and we were the victors in the previous two. I think it’s going to be very tight between the two sides.
‘We know how they played in the three games in South Africa, and it was pretty tight at Twickenham. They have a lot more confidence in what they’re doing. They understand what they want to do, and the time Eddie [Jones] has been with them, and [scrum coach] Neal [Hatley] and [forwards coach Steve] Borthwick have worked with them, the more efficient they have become up front.’