Bok coach Nienaber predicts another arm wrestle with valiant Scots
It will be another grind if it rains again all match long as last Saturday against Wales, mentor warns
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is bracing himself for another arm wrestle when his team meet Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Boks had to slug it out for the better part of their clash against Wales at a rain-soaked Principality Stadium last weekend and the coach expects another battle at close quarters with no inches offered or given.
“If it is in conditions like we played last Saturday, where it was raining from start to finish, it is going to be another grind,” Nienaber predicted.
It isn’t just the weather that will bring the teams closer. Scotland have become redoubtable opponents under the tutelage of former flyhalf Gregor Townsend. They have a proficient pack, while their backs possess power and poise.
“When they have all their internationals, it is quality opposition we are facing,” noted Nienaber. “If you look at their No 9, their No 10 and their No 15, you face British & Irish Lions players,” he said about Ali Price, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.
They also have in their ranks wing Duhan van der Merwe, centre Chris Harris and robust flank Hamish Watson as most recent British & Irish Lions tourists.
“They have very experienced game drivers. They can rip us apart with their attack or go to a kicking game,” Nienaber warned.
The Scots’ adaptability makes them tricky opponents. They may be adept at playing a quick tempo game in which they look to exploit space but they are as well versed in playing a patient game in which they bore their opponents into blunder.
Even England abandoned script as Scotland wore them down in their game of aerial ping pong in their most recent Six Nations clash.
“They kicked 43 times, which is the most kicks I have seen from them,” Nienaber said of the Scotland modus operandi in that clash.
“We will have to be alert to whatever tactics they decide to use against us,” he added.
In the most recent Six Nations they lost at home twice but more than made up for that with wins at Twickenham and Stade de France. Last weekend they bagged a win over Australia at Murrayfield.
Nienaber was keen to point out that Scotland had lost just two of their last seven games.
The Boks, however, have lost just two of their 11 Tests against Scotland at Murrayfield since the advent of the professional era.