England coach Stuart Lancaster says his players need to have good discipline against the Springboks or they’ll be punished by Morne Steyn.
In his 42-man touring squad, Lancaster recalled players who recently served suspensions. Scrumhalf Danny Care was picked after being banned for alcohol-related incidents, while hooker Dylan Hartley returns from an eight-week stay on the sidelines for biting Ireland flank Stephen Ferris during the last round of the Six Nations.
Highlanders flank James Haskell is also included in the England group for the first time since the team’s controversial World Cup campaign in New Zealand, but he’s currently serving a three-week ban for punching Cheetahs flank Justin Downey.
Lancaster has warned all his players about their discipline ahead of the June tour to South Africa as he believes this will give the Boks the advantage because of Steyn’s accurate boot.
‘We’ve got to reduce our penalty count across the board. We can’t be giving Morne Steyn kicks at goals. That message has been received by our players,’ Lancaster told The Telegraph. ‘Attitude, energy and emotional discipline should be a given for any England player. I’ll be having a pretty strong conversation with Dylan.
‘We’ve got to be able to trust players and he’s got to prove he’s ready to come back into the Test arena. But it’s not just Dylan, who has a lot of credit in the bank with us and looks in the best shape he’s ever been.’
The English will be reminded of Steyn’s threat from the kicking tee after the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. The Bok flyhalf kicked the match-winning, last-minute penalty in the second Test from inside his own half, which clinched a 28-25 victory and a series triumph for the hosts. This came after replacement fullback Rowan O’Gara’s dangerous challenge on scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.
England forwards coach Greg Rowntree, who was part of the British and Irish Lions management team three years ago, also remembers the Boks’ physicality.
‘It’s as tough as it gets going to South Africa and it was brutal in 2009,’ said Rowntree. ‘Historically, going down there has always been a big ask. The Springboks will play a very simple, confrontational game. We’ve got to be able to match it.’