Scotland’s captain Mike Blair is under no illusions about the magnitude of their task at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Scotland are fresh off a 32-6 defeat to the second-string All Blacks, a match Blair described as the fastest he’d ever played in. He said he expected a similar pace and intensity from the Springboks and was acutely aware that the challenge they faced was a monumental one.
“The quality of the South African team is exceptional. I think it’s stronger than the one that won the World Cup last year,” Blair said.
“It’s a really impressive outfit we’re playing against. You look at the quality of their team and what they’re capable of doing. In the first 10 or 15 minutes against Wales they were outstanding. Wales did well to get back into the game, but there’s a real threat throughout their team, the back row in particular.”
Blair peddled a now familiar rhetoric about how they were unlucky not to cause an upset given the amount of chances they created. Scotland have of course not crossed the chalk at Murrayfield since their World Cup Test against Romania in 2007 and Blair predicted another testing afternoon as they seek to unhinge the Springbok defensive line.
“The way the South Africans defend is typically a blitz defence up in the face, so it’s going to be important to us how we manage the game, our decision-making on the pitch. They kicked a hell of a lot against Wales and they play with a pressure game. They give you the ball and say, Let’s see what you can do’. It’s definitely a different challenge and in many ways a harder challenge.”