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'They've got to get rid of one of those two': Ex-Springbok Schalk Burger on England's problems

By Ben Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Springbok flanker Schalk Burger has questioned England’s selections in the wake of South Africa’s 27-13 win at Twickenham.


Eddie Jones’ side struggled to get going against a rampant defensive line that continued to put pressure on England’s playmakers, falling behind by 27-6 before putting together a late try for Henry Slade.

England’s attack was haphazard at times and lacked the timing and precision to combat an aggressive Springboks’ defence system.

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Ex-Springbok Burger believes they did not get the balance right to deal with what South Africa would throw at them.

“Where I think England missed a trick playing against us,” Burger said on SuperSport’s post-match show.

“When you’ve got Marcus Smith and then you’ve got a playmaker outside of him in Owen Farrell, you can’t play through 12 against the Boks.

“Our line speed is too fast. You saw it in the beginning, even when they’ve got numbers on the outside you saw Farrell going ‘we’re on, we’ve got it’, when he did that little tap on and it went forward.


“We don’t get flustered by that because we are going up and we are going to get them.”

England have tried to rebuild the 10-12 axis around the Harlequins No 10 and the experienced Farrell after giving up on George Ford.

During the Ford-Farrell era under Eddie Jones’ early stewardship, there were times where Farrell would start at No 10 with a strong ball carrying midfielder at 12 to combat physical sides.

Burger called on England to drop one of the two out of the side and move Manu Tuilagi into inside centre the next time they face the Springboks.

“For me, if they want to take on the Boks, and remove the issues on attack, they’ve got to get rid of one of those playmakers,” he said.


“You’ve got to bring Manu Tuilagi in one closer, you’ve got to punch these tight spaces, use Manu as a ball carrier first and also use a dummy runner to split and tighten the Boks up.

“Then your ball player can come in on the next phase when they are short on numbers.”


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Brian 564 days ago

He's absolutely right about Two 10s playing alongside each other, especially when Farrell at 12 is a liability in the tackle and tualagi is a force of nature who can meet force with force

Flankly 565 days ago

Conventional wisdom says that if you match the Boks physicality for 85 minutes, and target the set pieces then the win is in sight. Unfortunately England did not match the Boks intensity today, but they also saw the early evidence of much more exciting patterns in the SA attack. The SA try on their right wing deserves some review and analysis. Why was Willemse up against two props (that would never end well), and with the 15 caught out on the kick chase, why was the cover defense (9, 10, 12) so disorganized and ineffective. The Boks showed some exciting things but the English approach to defending it seemed surprisingly ponderous. The other surprise was the inability to capitalize on the 1 man advantage, from the red card. For me that is striking, and it does suggest that Schalk Burger is right about their core 10/12 axis.

johan 565 days ago

Your comment Makes no sense.

johan 565 days ago

I hope you (Ben Smith) realise that you will have to show the Springboks a lot more respect after your comments last week.

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