Scots should not fear Springboks: coach

Scots should not fear Springboks: coach

Scotland’s interim head coach Scott Johnson has urged his side to play without fear when they tackle South Africa at Murrayfield on Sunday.

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Scotland lost 30-17 to the Springboks on their tour of South Africa in June, having let an 11-point lead slip, but Johnson says they have no reason to feel intimidated by Heyneke Meyer’s side.

“We should be respectful of South Africa but fearing them is different,” Johnson said on Saturday.

“Rugby is a combative sport and we want people to be on edge. They are a pretty good side and we respect that. But fear is the wrong word. On edge is better.”

Scotland began their end-of-year campaign with a 42-17 defeat of Japan but the side that faces South Africa – 24-15 victors over Wales last weekend – will feature six changes.

South Africa’s line-up has far more experience at international level but Johnson says there is no point denying inexperienced players an opportunity to test themselves against the world’s top sides.

“We are on a different phase to the likes of the Springboks,” he told PA.

“For us it is a good chance to see guys. We have still got a lot of players sitting on the bench injured, so it gives others an opportunity.

“But part of the phase we are on is about finding out what some of those other guys are about.”

With Bakkies Botha back in the Springboks XV after a two-year absence, Johnson wants his side to focus on taking down South Africa’s ball carriers as swiftly as possible.

“Putting big men to the ground early is the area we really need to be sharp at. If they get a roll on, that’s their game and we need to stop that,” said the Australian.

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers, meanwhile, says his side have learnt their lesson from the last encounter between the teams, when the Springboks had to fight back from 17-6 down in Nelspruit.

“It has relevance in that it is history,” he said.

“It is over for us. In preparation for this week we will have got a bit of confidence out of the things that went well in that game, but also recognise our shortcomings and what we need to improve on.”