The Springboks are talking up England’s chances ahead of the first Test at Twickenham.
The world chumps suffered their seventh consecutive defeat over the weekend to an Argentina side that had just four days to prepare for the game. The English media have urged Andy Robinson to do the honourable thing and resign, but the coach looks set to stay until the end of the November Tests when director of rugby Rob Andrew will put him out of his misery.
Bok coach Jake White insists England still pose a huge threat despite their shocking run of form.
“We haven’t beaten England at Twickenham since 1997, so we know we have a big challenge ahead of us,” he said. “They’ve lost seven in a row now, and we were in a similar position earlier in the season when we lost five in succession. They will be desperate to turn things around.”
White’s obsession with size has been well documented and the coach believes it will have a major influence on Saturday’s Test.
“Argentina’s forwards took England on up front and that laid the foundation for their win,” he said. “England’s big strength is their pack. Obviously I’d love to have the likes of AJ Venter, Bakkies Botha, Os du Randt and Gurthro Steenkamp here, but this gives other players an opportunity to show what they can do.”
Meanwhile, England captain Martin Corry has defended his coach, saying the players were to blame for the Pumas nightmare.
“We’re all under pressure,” he said. “Robbo is at the top of the tree but as players we are looking at ourselves. As far as I’m concerned, no-one else is to blame but the players and we’ve got to put it right [against the Springboks]. It’s the players who are out there making the mistakes. We are the ones knocking the ball on in contact.”
Former England scrumhalf Austin Healy, who has never been scared to open his mouth, gave Corry and Co some advice ahead of the Bok game.
“England need to do the simple things well against South Africa. That’s what the Irish did in Dublin,” he said. “Our attack is all sideways at the moment — Ben Cohen is the only one running straight.”
By Simon Borchardt in London