Warren Whiteley is still anticipating a physical approach from England despite a lack of experience in their pack for the clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
With the well-documented number of first-choice England forwards missing due to a combination of injury and suspension, coach Eddie Jones has been forced to name a largely inexperienced side.
Among the forwards specifically, prop Alec Hepburn will be making his starting debut, while No 8 Mark Wilson and flank Tom Curry will win just their fifth caps on Saturday.
However, Whiteley still expects the Boks to be given a tough time against their northern rivals, who will be looking to bounce back from their 2-1 series defeat in June.
‘I don’t think England would like to avoid a physical confrontation,’ Whiteley said. ‘It is a physical side, they have great forwards.
‘Their tighties [tight forwards] are quality, they have some good experience there. They have good experience in their squad and I don’t think they are a team that will shy away from the physical confrontation.
‘It is quite a dynamic loose trio. Curry is a great young player, good at the breakdown and caused some trouble in the last Test [against the Boks]. He is somebody who will play a lot of Tests for England.
‘We have seen a lot of Shields in Super Rugby. He’s a really good all-round player, good decision-maker and good in the loose and the tight. I am not too familiar with the No 8, Wilson, but they are all dynamic players.’
The Springboks, meanwhile, will welcome back Duane Vermeulen, who will start in a relatively new Test role as a blindside flank, alongside Whiteley and captain Siya Kolisi.
Whiteley said the Boks’ leadership group, who will all be playing together on Saturday for the first time, would help Kolisi.
‘It’s more of a collective as that is where the strength lies. We have a lot of leaders within our group, guys who have captained before, Eben [Etzebeth], myself and Siya, with the experience of Duane. It takes a lot of pressure off Siya. That is the role we would like to play.
‘When there are decisions to be made, it is often made collectively. The decision-makers come together and get more in synch. There are small things, like calling the guys in and getting them to focus. Being able to work collectively as senior players helps to get those points across.
‘Siya has been phenomenal and is a guy we trust. It is great to have a great mix of youth and experience in our group.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
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