Boks ready for England Test
They face England in Durban on Saturday.
South Africa have a new coach in position for the three-match series with Heyneke Meyer having taken over from Peter de Villiers.
The match is also the first since last year’s World Cup in New Zealand, after which stalwarts such as John Smit and Victor Matfield stepped down.
A lot has been made about the short preparation time in the build-up to the game. The squad gathered for the first time on Sunday with most involved in taxing Super Rugby derbies less than 24 hours earlier.
“The mood is good in the camp,” De Villiers said on Friday.
“I really think we had a fantastic week preparation-wise.
“We only had three days but I think the camps that Heyneke had during the year really worked and we’re reaping the rewards now.”
Meyer included three uncapped players in his starting team earlier this week, with flanker Marcell Coetzee and locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth set to earn their first caps.
The two-time world champions also have another potential debutant in Coenie Oosthuizen who starts on the bench.
De Villiers, who will play his 73rd international for South Africa, will lead a team that has 458 caps in total.
The Springboks will also be bidding for an eighth successive win over the English, who last won on South African soil in 2000.
De Villiers admitted there would be pressure in representing the country.
“We’re not focussing on the result too much but more on what we need to do as a team,” said the skipper.
“It’s been quite a hectic week for me personally. It’s a job that comes with a lot more responsibility.
“It’s a massive challenge for us tomorrow [Saturday] and there’ll be a lot of new stuff but I think once we pass that first hurdle, hopefully it can just get better and better.
“If we perform well, I’m sure we can get a good result.”
England are in a similar position as the South Africans.
Their coach Stuart Lancaster takes charge of his first Test since taking the job on a full-time basis following a fairly successful Six Nations series, ending second behind Wales with four wins and one loss.
The Roses also have new faces in their ranks, with two debutants named in the starting XV – prop Joe Marler and flanker Tom Johnson.
Lancaster admitted the series would be difficult as South Africa was one of the toughest places to tour.
“If we are serious about becoming one of the best sides in the world, which is ultimately what we are, we need to benchmark ourselves against the best and play against the best,” Lancaster said. – Sapa