South Africa head coach certain there will be no mixed loyalties from …

SPRINGBOKS head coach Jacques Nienaber has said he is proud of the South Africans who represent Scotland, and is certain they will experience no conflict of loyalties when the teams meet at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. 

Wingers Kyle Steyn and Duhan van der Merwe and prop forward Pierre Schoeman are all expected to be involved in the Scotland squad against the country of their birth. Steyn qualifies as his mother was born in Glasgow, while Schoeman and van der Merwe are eligible on the residency rule. But no matter the route those players and others took to representing their adoptive country, Nienaber is confident they will discriminate themselves with committed performances in the Autumn Nations Series match. 

“People ask us how we feel about South Africans playing for another nation – and we’re very proud of it,” he said. “They are South African, but clearly there were reasons why they decided they wanted to move on and experience international rugby with another country.

“I know South Africans and they’re very loyal to whoever they serve. So, first and foremost, they would want to play well for themselves, their families and for Scotland. 

“It’s going to be a tough battle as they know how we think and do things. Guys like Pierre and Duhan, I’ve personally coached at under-20 level and at school level. I’ve come a long way with them.

“I was very happy for Kyle the other day when he scored four tries against Tonga. I think it will be a nice tussle on Saturday with the South African-born players – but not in a negative way.”

Nienaber has made three changes to his starting line-up from the one that began last weekend’s 23-18 win over Wales. Willie le Roux steps in at complete-back for the injured Damien Willemse, Elton Jantjies is at stand-off instead of Handre Pollard, and Franco Mostert takes over at lock from Lood de Jager. 

Pollard and De Jager are part of a great bench – the so-called Bomb Squad which has served the Springboks well in recent seasons, helping them get the upper hand in very tight contests. Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch are the front-row replacements who can be expected to make their collective turn up ten minutes or so into the second half, while backs substitute Frans Steyn will, if used, set a new South African record for longevity as a Test player – just over 15 years.

But, although he will rely chiefly on physicality to get the better of Scotland, Nienaber also expects his team will need to be versatile in defence to combat the threat of players such as Ali Price, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg. “Scotland are a quality attacking team,” the coach continued. “If you look at their 9, 10 and 15, they’re British & Irish Lions, very experienced players, so they’re game drivers. 

“They can rip us apart with their tackle, they can go with a kicking game. When they beat England in the Six Nations I think they kicked 43 times, which is the most I’ve seen from them. I guess we will have to be awake for at any rate tactic they decide to use against us.”  

Nienaber also expects that a complete Murrayfield will be a factor which his own team have to deal with, but appears confident his players can use the air to their own assistance.  “Home advantage is going to be enormous,” he additional. “We experienced that last weekend playing in front of almost a capacity Principality Stadium. From a personal view, we enjoy it as we’ve not played in front of crowds for quite some time.

“It was an unbelievable air against Wales and I expect the same again this weekend. That’s why it will be a proper Test match. The Scottish team will grow an additional arm and a leg for their crowd, so that will definitely be a factor that we will have to deal with. We are looking forward to that challenge.”

South Africa (v Scotland at BT Murrayfield, Saturday 1pm): W le Roux; J Kriel, L Am, D de Allende, M Mapimpi; E Jantjies, H Jantjies; O Nche, B Mbonambi, T Nyakane, E Etzebeth, F Mostert, S Kolisi (captain), K Smith, D Vermeulen. Substitutes: M Marx, S Kitshoff, V Koch, L de Jager, J Wiese, C Reinach, H Pollard, F Steyn.



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