Scotland have been given little time to recover from their 22-51 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks with only six days for Scotland manager Andy Robinson to prepare his team for what will undoubtedly be another brutally physical game on Saturday at Murrayfield.
South Africa coach Heineke Meyer will be forced to plug the gaps in his first XV by an extensive injury list following a long and tough season in the southern hemisphere, his side will still carry the physical threat that has always been a trademark of Springboks teams.
After being outplayed in the first half against Ireland in Dublin last week, South Africa resorted to a physical game reliant on some of rugby’s darker arts along with the odd Samoan sidestep.
Jonathan Sexton may not look forward to seeing JP Pietersen running at him again and the heady mix of bruising physicality up front with a solid set piece secured a narrow victory for South Africa, a team that generally struggle away from home.
Since Scotland beat the Springboks 21-17 in November 2010, South Africa have only managed two victories away from home, against England and Ireland.
That victory also came a week after the All Blacks posted a big score against the Scots, coincidence perhaps, but Andy Robinson will want to see his Scotland side show some fighting spirit and comeback strongly against South Africa.
Another concern for the Boks will be that their physical game will not be as effective against the likes of Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray and the returning Dave Denton as it was last week.
Denton, who replaces the injured Ross Rennie, is ably supported by the under rated and bulky Ally Strokosch and Kelly Brown in the back-row, while Euan Murray will also return after missing out last weeks Sunday kick off due to his religious beliefs.
With Murray packing down alongside Ross Ford, the Scotland pack is big and bulky and will not be easily bullied.
Ones to Watch:
South Africa: Adriaan Strauss
Strauss is South Africa’s third choice hooker but last week against Ireland he put up a superb display, scrimmaging well, throwing well in a solid line out and contributing a physical presence in the loose. Euan Murray will be fresh though, expect an exciting battle between the two classy front rowers.
Scotland: Richie Gray
Saturday will be a match dominated by the forwards and Richie Gray will have an important role, as leader and in the lineout. South Africa have become specialists in the lineout and use it as a devastating weapon in the opposing 22. It will be tough but Gray must disrupt the Boks throw as well as stand up to the impressive 21 year old Eben Etzebeth in the loose.
South Africa have brought in France based prop Gurthro Steenkamp and have recalled Western Province centre Juan de Jongh at outside centre in the place of Jaco Taute who drops to the bench. Steenkamp’s arrival means that CJ van der Linde drops to the bench in the place the Tendai “the beast” Mtawarira who has returned to South Africa after suffering heart problems.
Scotland have made only two changes to the side that lost to the All Blacks, Ross Rennie is injured and is replaced by Dave Denton, while Euan Murray can play in Saturday’s match after missing out last week due to his religious beliefs.
A heavily physical encounter will suit Scotland as much as it will South Africa and if the Scots can get ahead on the scoreboard early they stand a good chance of repeating their performance last summer against Australia. South Africa start slowly but have a powerful bench, Scoltand must not fade or they will be punished.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; David Denton, Kelly Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Ryan Grant.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Geff Cross, Alastair Kellock, John Barclay, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Peter Murchie.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: Schalk Brits, Heinke van der Merwe, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Morne Steyn, Jaco Taute, Lwazi Mvovo.