England flyhalf Danny Cipriani says the Springboks’ back three are a potent unit.
The young flyhalf, speaking ahead of what will surely be his biggest physical examination of his short Test career, acknowledged that the Springboks’ strength was in their forwards, but reserved praise for the trio of Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Conrad Jantjes.
“I think everyone knows they’re a massive, big strong oufit who have some big ball carriers and are very direct,” Cipriani told bbcsport.co.uk.
“But they also have a lot of pace in their back three with Habana, Pietersen and Jantjes there. It’s key that we have to be on full alert, red alert, when they have the ball, because they can really hurt you if given time and space to move.”
The Springbok trio haven’t functioned at optimal efficiency on this tour, despite being feed with ample opportunities to attack from broken field thanks in large part to poor tactical kicking from Wales and Scotland.
Compounding their woes is that their ballistic missile, Bryan Habana, has been deeply disappointing, but he has an opportunity to finish the season on a high at Twickeham.
On a personal level Cipriani has been the subject of much debate in the press this week, with some sectors believing his indifferent performance against Australia at Twickenham last week proved he is a liability against world-class opposition. Cipriani scoffed at those suggestions, but was honest in his assessment of his performance.
“It was frustrating for me. Some areas of my game went well and others lacked consistency in execution,” he said. “I don’t expect that from myself and I’m determined to rectify that against the Springboks this week.”