- England lock prepared for direct, uncompromising approach from South Africa
- This is all about winning – Parling
Despite Heyneke Meyer’s decision to select a number of inexperienced forwards for Saturday’s first Test in Durban, Geoff Parling is adamant that South Africa will pose a typically abrasive threat up front.
The hosts will start the series opener with a trio debutants in their ranks – locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth and 21-year-old openside Marcell Coetzee in line to open their accounts for the Springboks after impressing over course of the current Super 15 campaign.
Even so, Parling refused to approach the weekend with any complacency, suggesting that there would be no easy encounters on what promises to be an extremely arduous tour.
"Anyone in their side is going to be a very good player," explained the 28-year-old. "All South African forwards are big and physical, which means that the first 20 minutes of the match are going to be key.
“There aren’t any secrets surrounding how they are going to play – they will do the simple things very, very well.
“We can talk lots about what they will bring, but it is more important to concentrate on us and imposing ourselves on them. If we sit back, they will get the momentum they need. Even in defence, we must come forward and chop them down.
“This series is a big opportunity, but we have to be at the top of our game to take it.”
Photo: Getty Images
As he did during this year’s RBS 6 Nations, Parling will have a crucial role in the organisation of the lineout throughout this tour and, while admitting that the absence of his clubmate Tom Croft will be felt, the Leicester Tiger appeared confident of delivering a sturdy platform.
“Crofty is a brilliant player and obviously I know him inside-out. It would be nice to have him out here but[his absence] gives an opportunity to someone else who will be very keen to take it.
So far in training, we have seen that there is so much enthusiasm surrounding what is a pretty young squad. Everyone is trying to prove themselves and push for spots.
“It’s important that each of the guys leading the side’s different roles do their jobs. Then, the team can come together.”
Many critics, including former Springbok skipper John Smit, have voiced a belief that England should be considered favourites for Saturday’s clash on account of South Africa’s disjointed preparation, which only began in earnest on Monday because of the domestic rugby calendar.
However, Parling finished by outlining the fiercely single-minded approach of Lancaster’s charges and their reluctance to look beyond this weekend.
“We haven’t even thought about the other Tests,” he added. “We are fully focussed on this first opportunity and converting it into a big win.
"We want this tour to be successful. It’s all good talking about how great the culture is over here, but this is all about winning and we want to go back home with some good results under our belt."
Stuart Lancaster announces his team at 09.15am (BST) tomorrow morning and you can watch his first interview then, exclusive to RFU.com.