Mzwandile Stick says the two games against the All Blacks this year have given the Springboks a good idea about what to expect in their World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday.
The defending champions get their title defence underway on Sunday evening in Marseille against a deadly Scotland currently ranked at number five in the world.
Inside South Africa’s camp, there is a sense that in this year’s two Tests against the All Blacks, the Boks have learned how to shut down Scotland’s major threats.
“Scotland are in a good space, and they are playing with confidence,” said assistant coach Stick.
“They also have Finn Russell at No 10 who is probably one of the best playmakers in their team.
“Looking at our preparation though, we’ve played against the All Blacks twice this year in the build up to the World Cup which was good for us. Scotland tend to spread the ball a lot – much like New Zealand – and they are certainly one of the best attacking teams currently, so it will be important for us to enforce our game plan on them.”
The Springboks go into the match with the mental edge – having won 23 meetings between the teams to Scotland’s five – and a winning sequence of seven matches for the Boks dating back to 2010. But Stick insisted that it had no significance for the team.
“What happened between us and Scotland in the past doesn’t count anymore,” said Stick. “If we are not at our best tomorrow, it could be a long day at the office. We must pitch up mentally and physically if we want to win the game.”
The Boks have been drawn in the so-called “pool of death” with themselves, Scotland and the world’s top ranked team, Ireland, in their pool, and Stick said this made a good start to the tournament even more important.
“As any other team in the competition, we want a positive start to the World Cup,” said Stick. “A win would put us in a good space. So, we’ll go out there and give everything to achieve that. The key for us is to keep improving and to build momentum.”
The showpiece at Stade de Marseille kicks off at 5.45pm.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images