- Stuart Lancaster says his side are fresh and ready for South Africa challenge
- England aiming to break seven game losing streak against Springboks
There are no excuses for Stuart Lancaster as his “fresh and ready” side prepare for the daunting task of the first Test against the Springboks on Saturday evening in Durban.
Last time England came to South Africa, in 2007, player unavailability and illness affected their chances and Brian Ashton’s side were humbled 58-10 in Bloemfontein and 55-22 in Pretoria.
South Africa have won their last seven encounters with England and have only lost three times on home soil in the last decade against northern hemisphere opposition (France twice and Lions) but Lancaster is confident is side has what it takes.
The England Head Coach said: “I don’t think I’ve ever made any excuses since I took over the role.
“I’ve always picked the best possible side to win the game, picked players on form and we’ll do that again this time. The players are fresh, ready, looking forward to the game and we’ll certainly be giving it our best shot.
“We’re still a young team in terms of experience, when you look at Chris [Robshaw], Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson they’re still on four or five caps per player so the South Africa side will be significantly more experienced than we are but it was like that when we went to France.
“It’s about us being ready, being prepared, being motivated and delivering on the day. The beauty of this tour is we get three chances at it and two midweek games as well, so we’ll all know, by the end of the tour, where we are.”
Photo: Getty Images
New South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has selected 13 players from former franchise Blue Bulls, a side known for playing a tight, physical, kick-dominated, territorial brand of rugby under his tenure.
Given the Springboks only assembled yesterday, it is likely former Leicester Tigers coach Meyer will revert to type and Lancaster believes it is essential England match that physicality in order to prevail.
But equally, according to the 42-year-old, England must be accurate and disciplined, given the long-range, dead-eye boot of Bulls fly half Morne Steyn.
He added: “There is an element of physicality and an element of directness to their approach that means you’ve got to match them, if you don’t, it’s game over.
“And with that we need to be disciplined, we to make sure technically we don’t allow them opportunities for easy three pointers or drop goals because they’ve shown as an international team and through some of their Super 15 teams that can punish you and once they get that nine/12 point lead you’re in a tough position.”
Lancaster names his side for the first Test against South Africa at 10am on Thursday morning and you can watch his first interview on the side exclusive to RFU.com at that time.