Stuart Hogg: South Africa team selection shows respect for Scotland

South Africa’s team selection for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash against Scotland at Murrayfield shows that the world champions now have a healthy respect for the home side, says Stuart Hogg.

Stuart Hogg during a Scotland Rugby training session at the Oriam ahead of Saturday's Autumn Test match against South Africa at BT Murrayfield (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber named his team for the match on Tuesday, with Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzbeth, Damian de Allender, Lukhanyo Am and skipper Siya Kolisi among the world class operators included in the line-up.

“They are a very impressive team and are world champions for a reason,” said Hogg. “They have some of the best individual rugby players and as a collective are incredibly strong.

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“The side they have named is incredibly strong. I see that as a huge respect given to us in that they have named a full-strength squad and shows how far we have come.

“In saying that, no matter what team they put out it would have been incredibly strong."

The Scotland team will be announced at lunchtime today, with Gregor Townsend not expected to tinker too much with the side which defeated Australia last Sunday, although a six-day turnaround means there is likely to be some freshening up. Second-row Scott Cummings could come back into the squad if fit again after an arm injury.

“We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we have had some big wins over the last 18 months or so and we are excited for the opportunity to take on the world champions at BT Murrayfield,” added the Scotland captain.

“They have played some very nice rugby over the past couple of years and for us to have an opportunity play against them in front of our fans, our people, is fantastic.”

Hogg was speaking at an event in Edinburgh yesterday highlighting the work done by the Laureus Sport for Good to grow the game globally, and specifically their partnership with the School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) programme in Fife, which aims to use rugby coaching, classroom sessions and mentoring to improve attendance and behaviour at school.

Working with young people aged 13 to 14, the programme builds confidence and resilience, improves physical and mental well-being and encourages young people to fulfil their potential in education.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact throughout society, and the kids in the programmes Laureus supports really felt the impact of lockdowns and isolations with sporting facilities being forced to close and activities being put on hold,” said Hogg, who is an ambassador for the charity. “It’s special for me to see the great work the organisation is doing here in Scotland.

“This year’s Lions Series was an incredible experience for everyone involved and it was an honour for me to captain the team,” the full-back added. “Unfortunately, due to restrictions we were unable to visit community programmes out in South Africa, and with Laureus being Global Charity Partner of the Series, that meant we weren’t able to experience the incredible work the organisation supports in South Africa.

"Laureus also supports School of Hard Knocks out in South Africa, and while we couldn’t spend time with the programme out in South Africa, it’s special for me to see the great work the organisation is doing here in Scotland.”

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