But England coach warns of rejuvenated SA side
Coach Eddie Jones has warned his England side to beware of a “regenerating” South Africa when they try to end their abysmal record against the Springboks.
England open their end-of-year campaign against South Africa at Twickenham on November 12, having not beaten the Springboks since 2006 – a run of 11 defeats in 12 games, which includes a 14-14 draw in Johannesburg four years ago.
The Boks have struggled under new coach Allister Coetzee since finishing third at last year’s World Cup.
They have lost four of their last five tests, with their most recent outing a record 57-15 defeat by world champions New Zealand during the Rugby Championship in Durban earlier this month.
By contrast, England have won all nine of their international games since Australian coach Jones took over following the hosts’ first round exit at the World Cup.
Former Australia and Japan coach Jones warned: “We don’t have a great record against South Africa, so we have a change to make new history.”
“South Africa have lost four or five icon players and are regenerating themselves under a new coach, but we know they will be up for it, come Twickenham.”
Jones came under fire for the conduct of his training camp this month in Brighton, on England’s south coast, in which several players – including wings Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell – received injuries that ruled them out of the entire Old Mutual Wealth series, with England playing Fiji, Argentina and Australia on successive Saturdays at Twickenham after they face the Springboks.
“No one likes to see players get injured, but we’re playing South Africa on November 12 and need to train with intensity to beat them,” Jones said.
“We haven’t beaten them since 2006.” The Springboks are a team Jones knows well, having acted as a coaching adviser to the South Africa side that won the 2007 World Cup.”
“They’ve picked an interesting squad and look like they’ll play a little more rugby than we’re used to from South Africa,” Jones said.
“At 10, they have [Elton] Jantjies, [Pat] Lambie and possibly Johan Goosen, so we’ll probably see a different style from the South African team that will present different challenges for our defence.”
“The new coach, Allister Coetzee, coached the Stormers for a long period of time and they played with great width. It’s going to be a different sort of challenge from South Africa, but one we are excited about.”
Jones, however, was adamant that South Africa would not back away from the physical approach that has been the bedrock of their game for generations.
“South Africans like to play without the ball. They don’t mind you having the ball and they don’t mind hurting you,” Jones said.
“That’s been a big part of the game for a long time. We are going to have to be smart and make them feel uncomfortable.”
“If we can do that, then we will put ourselves in a great position to turn that abysmal record against South Africa around.”
England conclude their 2016 campaign against Jones’s native Australia.
In June, England wrapped up a 3-0 series win in Australia and the Wallabies, coached by Michael Cheika – Jones’s former teammate at Sydney club Randwick – will be keen for revenge.
Australia are still smarting from a 37-10 defeat by New Zealand in Auckland last weekend that saw the All Blacks achieve a tier one record 18th successive test win.
Afterwards, Cheika was furious at having been depicted as a clown in a New Zealand newspaper.
Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney, said: “We have a long time before we play Australia.”
“They’re closer to Christmas than the South Africa test, but we know they are talking, even now, about a grand slam, so they’re obviously full of optimism and confidence.”