SCOTLAND captain Kelly Brown possesses more insight into the mind of the Springboks than anyone in the home camp this weekend and is even prepared to throw a few Afrikaans words into the mix.
Brown enjoyed the experience of leading Scotland for the first time last weekend, stating that the run-out into the stadium in which he sat as a schoolboy cheering his heroes, was a career highlight. But the way the game slid away from Scotland and the manner in which his side conceded tries to New Zealand, particularly the four that all but killed the contest in the first-half, left him with a sour taste as he headed back inside at the finish.
He will return tomorrow revived and with belief that Scotland can turn the disappointments and lessons from last weekend into a winning display against South Africa, mirroring the achievement he was part of in 2010. Having played alongside leading Springboks John Smit and Schalk Brits, who is on the bench tomorrow, at Saracens, he has an idea of what kind of challenge his men will face.
Brown said: “I think we showed, when we played as we wanted to play, when we got our line speed right and we ran really hard, that we can cause problems for any side. But it’s up to us to make sure that we don’t suffer those little lapses of concentration that New Zealand were very good at capitalising on.
“At times we were very good but we need to keep that level of performance up for the full 80 minutes and that’s something we’re really looking to do on Saturday. That was our first match [of the season] and we have learned a lot, and we will look to take what we have learned forward into another incredibly tough match on Saturday.
“They [South Africa] are reasonably large,” he continued. “I’ve played against the Springboks quite a few times in the past and they have a very good kicking game. They are very physical. They have a few smart starter plays that they will use to put us under a bit of pressure. But I’m really looking forward to it.
“Obviously, at Saracens there are a few South Africans there. I have learned a bit of Afrikaans and, if I get a chance to say something on Saturday, I will see what I can say. Unfortunately, it’s mainly swear words. But, actually, that could be perfect.
“Schalk is an incredible player and, as a friend, I would love him to play because I know what it means to him to play for the Springboks. He has not done it in a long time. As an opponent, I hope he stays in his sub suit.”
Brown has an extra challenge this week, with Scotland having lost Ross Rennie to injury against the All Blacks. The captain slipped into the openside berth at scrum-time, but retained his No 8 role for lineouts, and he will do the same again on Saturday, with David Denton at No 8 and Alasdair Strokosch at blindside in what represents one of the biggest back rows Scotland have ever fielded.
Brown is not fazed by the switch and will draw confidence from the fact that the Scottish trio are bigger than their opposite numbers but his understanding of the game – not to mention the Boks and Afrikaans – is a key trait Scotland coach Andy Robinson relies on and so the Borderer is keen for his side both to believe that they can win and be fully prepared for everything South Africa bring.
He added: “I feel that one of my strengths is that I can play six, seven or eight and I have done over most of my career. It’s something I’m more than comfortable with.
“But, as captain, my role is to make sure that all of the guys know what is expected of them, the challenges that are facing us and help to inspire the boys.
“We all know what South Africa’s main strengths are but, like all sides, they are looking to expand that and pose more threats. I have no doubt they will look to take us on up front but, if it is on, they will look to move it. We expect a really physical challenge but we are aware that, if it is on, they will look to play.”