Strauss: Both teams are well-equipped play with a wet ball

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If you look at the record between the two teams, with the Boks having been successful against the Red Rose since 2006, history should favour the South Africans.

But looking at the year that the Spingboks have endured, it doesn’t.

Eddie Jones’ team have wrapped up 10 wins since last year’s World Cup (in which his then-side, Japan, famously beat the Boks) and after securing a Six Nations grand slam earlier this year and a 3-0 whitewash of Australia in their Test series in June, England have been on a roll.

And Jones, the mind-games fanatic that he is, hasn’t held back when it came to pre-match jabs ahead of the Test at Twickenham.

But despite the Boks’ less-than-ideal year, Strauss is confident in his men’s chances.

And he also wasn’t too bothered by the predicted wet conditions.

“The preparations went well. Luckily it rains on both teams. Both teams are going to have to adapt. We have prepared for that. I think both teams are well-equipped to play with a wet ball,” the Bok skipper said at a press conference in London yesterday.

Since his appointment, Coetzee has hinted at playing a more expansive game, and although it wasn’t always evident throughout the season, Strauss said that their goal is still to progress to a different game, while retaining their “DNA”.

“We are moving to a style of play that we want to play and we are well aware that we’re not there yet. We want to play physical rugby, it’s in the DNA of South African rugby and it’s our brand of rugby. But we also want to adapt and we have been doing that this year. Our execution hasn’t been well, but we have been growing as a team and hopefully we can take another step,” Strauss said.

When asked about their record against the English, Strauss said that although it was a favourable one, they see Saturday’s fixture as an whole new chapter.

“I don’t want to think of this game as representing the whole, whether we win or lose. I just see it as another Test and a step towards the team we want to be,” he said.

“We have put in good preparation. We’re very positive and we’re eager to get onto that field. That’s all that we can control and that’s all that we’re focusing on.

“It’s a new day, it’s a new year. We have gained a lot of confidence playing in the northern hemisphere over the past few years, but like I said, it’s a new chapter and it’s not going to help us on the day.”

A lot of emphasis has been placed on the battle up front in Saturday afternoon’s game.

The Springboks, who have gone with Willem Alberts, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Warren Whiteley in the back row, will face an onslaught from massive ball-carriers and gain line-hungry men.

But it is a challenge that Strauss is sure that the Boks are up for.

“We expect a very physical and tough game. We do expect them to maul quite a lot. And we expect contestable kicks. In that weather it’s a good mix to have and we’re looking forward to it,” Strauss said.

Weekend Argus

Original source: Strauss: Both teams are well-equipped play with a wet ball

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