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The reasons why England admit Springboks pack has grown since 2019

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Steve Haag/PA Images via Getty Images)

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The Springboks will arrive at Twickenham this Saturday having only played a dozen matches since being crowned World Cup winners in November 2019, but England assistant Matt Proudfoot has claimed this South African pack – which now includes Ox Nche – has grown in the two years since then despite their limited number of matches. 


Proudfoot was part of the Springboks staff that helped Siya Kolisi and co go all the way to glory in Japan and while he has since worked with England in their 18 games in 2020 and 2021, he believes there has been an evolution in the South Africans since the last meeting between the two countries.

Jacques Nienaber is now the Springboks head coach and while he will go into battle this Saturday at Twickenham with five of the same starting pack that won the day in Yokohama, England scrum coach Proudfoot reckoned the visitors’ forwards now pose an even greater threat than at the finals 24 months ago. 

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“They have grown, Ox Nche has been a revelation for them coming in and taking the starting loosehead position from the Beast [Tendai Mtawarira],” he insisted when asked to compare the then and now Springboks packs. “A very different player. He has got a very different skillset. 

“If you look at the bomb squad that comes on with Steven (Kitshoff) and Malcolm (Marx), they have just grown in confidence, they know their role and they are very comfortable in their role so they have become a lot more experienced. They can handle different challenges that get presented to them. 

“The last two games (against Scotland and Wales) they have had to chase from late on, they were behind at stages and just how they were able to handle that. If you think in the World Cup they were ahead, so they were in the pound seats and they could control the game. I see there has been an evolution in their mindset and they are a lot more resilient, a lot more adaptive and that comes with experience so they have grown since 2019.


“Their pack is very important to them,” added Proudfoot. “As long as their pack goes forward their team does well. Their maul is just as important. They try to have two really big platforms that are important to them that if one day one isn’t working well they can go to the other. They try to have two big weapons.

“They have a couple of powerful facets to their game but those tend to be two really emotive ones, they tend to drive them and it is going to be a challenge to confront those two. We have done our homework and have some really good plans and we are looking forward to the challenge of executing those plans.”


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