England scrum coach Matt Proudfoot, who coached South Africa’s pack to World Cup glory, is assured that his ‘Fight Club’ of forwards can take the game to the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday.
England will be without the experienced Jamie George and Ellis Genge for Saturday’s Test match, a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final.
Instead, the home side will be looking to an emerging front-row unit in Jamie Blamire, Bevan Rodd, Trevor Davison and Nic Dolly, who have just five Test caps between them.
Having worked under Rassie Erasmus in 2018 and 2019, Proudfoot will know better than anyone how much pride the Springboks take from their scrum and how deadly the ‘Bomb Squad’ of forwards coming off the bench can be.
However, the Klerksdorp-born former prop is confident that his youthful front rowers have the attitude to cope with that threat.
“Like every front-row forward it’s about what is inside the man – that’s what we look for firstly,” Proudfoot explained.
“That’s what we identified in Jamie [Blamire]: a strong character and a lot of personal fight. When he came into camp in the summer we chucked him in what we term the ‘Fight Club’ – which is where the front row do a lot of extra work. The way he ripped in was really promising.
“You can go back in history and look at every great player. The first time they got the opportunity, the narrative would have been: ‘Is he ready?’ But it’s about how he grabs it. For me, on Saturday, it’s about what’s in that jersey; who is putting that white jersey on. I’ve got a lot of confidence in any of the front rowers we’re going to pick.
“This is the most important game of the year for us,” Proudfoot added. “Our mindset is to confront it, go head on and not back away from it. Playing the world champions is always a big challenge.
“They have proved over the last two years they are the best side in the world and they deserve that title. I am sure the players we will select will be up for the challenge. The players [also] know it is Twickenham, it is their home and that is what they stand for. They will have the right mindset on Saturday.”
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