South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has warned his side that “Scotland like to attack from anywhere” ahead of Saturday’s much-anticipated Autumn Test.
Gregor Townsend’s men welcome the South Africans to BT Murrayfield this coming weekend looking to build on nine wins in their last ten games at the ground.
In those ten games – the loss coming to world No 1 side New Zealand – the team have at times run in tries for fun.
At the weekend they scored eight against Fiji, five coming in a composed second-half performance, and that has left Erasmus and co on red alert.
According to the 46-year-old former Munster director of rugby, Scotland play with such attacking style and pace that they are more like a Super Rugby team than a run-of-the-mill northern hemisphere outfit.
Teams from Super Rugby – the best club tournament in the southern hemisphere – are known for playing an expansive, exciting type of game.
“I think Scotland are very much a Super Rugby style of team who play a more southern hemisphere style of play, it looks like it will be fairly dry on Saturday and Scotland are not afraid to attack from anywhere – that is the way Gregor coaches,” said the head coach, whose side beat France in the dying seconds 29-26 at the weekend.
“England and France played different styles [over the last fortnight], England used their kicking game while France have a lot of ‘big moment’ players – I think Scotland has a mix of both.
“It will be a very big test. I have coached against Gregor Townsend a lot [when Munster played Glasgow], so I know how he coaches and his style is certainly all about a fit team who are well organised.
“They are good offensively too so I know about them and what areas we need to focus on this week ahead of the game.
“They have a lot of Glasgow players in their team and they play with pace so that is why I know it is going to be tough at the weekend.”
As Erasmus stated, he and Townsend have coached against one another before.
In the 2016/17 season Glasgow and Munster met four times – twice in the league and twice in Europe – with the Irish side under Erasmus coming out on top four times.
However, he has a lot of respect for Scotland’s coaching unit and the team ranked fifth in the world know they will have to be at their best to come away with a victory against the world’s sixth best team on Saturday evening. And that means a big improvement from their last outing
“I don’t think we did [play very well against France],” Erasmus said.
“I actually thought against England the week before we did better and created more opportunities despite losing, but we were not good against France, we did not do some of the things we had been practicing all week – the balance between when to run things and when to box kick was not right, but maybe that was down to pressure.
“At times we had a bit of tunnel vision and played within ourselves so I have no doubt we can improve against Scotland.
“I’d say there has been four or five Test matches of late where we have been behind and we do have that belief that we can come back. You don’t always have to come back though and sometimes it is nice to have the lead from the beginning.
“It is encouraging that we can fight back, but we should not always be putting ourselves in this position, it should not be a trend.”
On the injury front Erasmus is hopeful that Eben Etzebeth will be back in the second-row while there is “a little bit of doubt” around tighthead props Vincent Koch and Frans Malherbe, but they are expected to be fit. No.8 Warren Whiteley is “probably doubtful” with a calf problem.
Scotland’s two starting props are likely to be Allan Dell and WP Nel at the weekend and Erasmus knows all about them.
“I am impressed by them, he stated of the South African-born duo.
“I know them both and I know WP very well from his Cheetahs days and what they have done shows that there are a few guys in other teams now who are from South Africa who have taken the opportunity given to them [by another country] and done very well.”