Nick Mallett has warned the Springboks not to be over-confident against England, pointing to their big improvement under new coach Stuart Lancaster as a sign of the danger they pose.
England arrive in South Africa on Thursday for a five-match tour that includes three Tests, all of which will be broadcast exclusively live on SuperSport.
The former Springbok coach, now an analyst for SuperSport, said that once England got to grips with what Lancaster wanted in the Six Nations, they finished strongly. Ireland were belted and France were beaten in Paris; two notable achievements.
“He’s opted for a younger squad because the older players have let them down. Guys like Owen Farrell and Danny Care represent the best of them, while Manu Tuilagi is very powerful, unlike anyone England has produced,” said Mallett.
“Their front row is very good, having dominated Ireland and even Italy, who are traditionally very strong in this area. Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley and Alex Corbisiero could give the Boks real problems.
“Their lineout, scrum and kicking game is impressive and Chris Robshaw, the captain, has instilled a feel-good factor and will be up for it after winning the league with Leicester this past weekend.”
Mallett expects that the first Test in Durban will be the hardest for SA. England will have had a longer break that the Springboks, won’t suffer from jetlag and will be playing at the coast.
“Back here, our Super Rugby sides will be going at it hammer and tongs this weekend. A lot of the England game will have to be played purely on passion and heart – there just isn’t enough time for detailed game plans. It will very much come down to forward dominance. If the Boks can do that, it will allow Morné Steyn to kick drops and penalties. If not, it could develop into a long, hard tour.”
For SuperSport, meanwhile, Matthew Pearce and former Springbok captain Bob Skinstad will head up the English commentary team, with Hennie Koortzen and Kobus Wiese on Afrikaans duty and Kaunda Ntunja and Makhaya Jack doing Xhosa.
Hugh Bladen will commentate on the midweek matches.
Springbok icons Victor Matfield and Joel Stransky will be on the sidelines, while former England and British Lions international Stuart Barnes will offer expert analysis throughout the series.
With experienced Xola Ntshinga anchoring, studio experts will be Mallett, Naas Botha and Ashwin Willemse.
The Test matches will have a one-hour buildup, which will include live crossings to venue, plus post-match wraps.
Fifteen countries have already signed up for SuperSport’s international feed.
Test matches will be repeated on SS4 for Compact viewers at 7pm on the respective Saturdays.