Jones and Coetzee talk up 'set piece battle'

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 15:45

REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones and South African counterpart Allister Coetzee agree on one thing: the game is won or lost up front.

Jones has made no secret of the fact that his team will challenge the Springboks head-on when the two sides meet at Twickenham on Saturday.

"Test matches are always about the contest up front - scrums, mauls, line-outs," Jones said, after naming his team for the London encounter.

"That is the one things that hasn't changed in the game, particularly when you are playing against a traditional rival South Africa, who pride themselves in those areas.

"That is going to be the contestable area of the game," he added.

The Bok coach, Coetzee, responded by selecting a monster pack - naming regular lock Pieter-Steph du Toit at blindside flank and burly Willem Alberts on the other flank.

Warren Whiteley, at No.8, is the only loose forward in his regular position.

Du Toit's positional switch has paved the way for Lodewyk de Jager, who missed the Barbarians match last week through suspension, to return to the second row alongside Eben Etzebeth.

Hooker Adrian Strauss returns to the front row and resumes the captaincy.

England are unbeaten under coach Eddie Jones and Saturday's match will be their first Test since they whitewashed the Wallabies 3-0 in Australia in June.

"The challenge this week will definitely start up front, as the English pack paved the way for their series win over the Wallabies in Australia," said Coetzee.

"It will be a physical challenge and the set-piece battle could prove to be the decisive."

He added: "I believe we have selected the best available team for this Saturday.

"We have a long list of injured loose forwards, with all of Roelof Smit, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi and Sikumbuzo Notshe injured, while a couple are also unavailable for selection."

Coetzee said the number of injuries, and to players in specific positions, gave him the opportunity to test certain new combinations.

"We are going to use this tour also to test various combinations and rotate players to ensure we move in the right direction,” said Coetzee.

The Springboks have lost four of their last five Tests, while England have won nine out of nine under coach Eddie Jones.

But the South Africans are, by contrast, undefeated against England since 2006 - a run spanning 12 Tests.

"England have a lot of belief at the moment -they have won their last nine matches since the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach," said Coetzee.

"They are always formidable at Twickenham and matches involving our two countries have always delivered close fought encounters.

"They are an extremely well-coached side with no apparent weaknesses and their away series win in Australia proved why they are currently second in the world rankings."

Coetzee added: "They are definite favourites, but we are looking forward to another huge battle against them."