ENGLAND coach Mike Catt expects to feel the full force of South African retaliation at Twickenham on Saturday even if their humbling at the hands of Ireland forces the Springboks to modify their attacking instincts.
Heyneke Meyer’s side were brushed aside 29-15 at the Aviva Stadium, a defeat which punctured the euphoria surrounding the defeat of New Zealand last month that ended the All Blacks’ 22-match unbeaten run.
Whether South Africa deviate from the expansive game-plan recently implemented by Meyer or not, Catt is convinced the Boks will have regained their poise and will view a Twickenham victory as a major feather in their cap.
“It will be interesting to see if they carry on playing with the width they have been and which they beat New Zealand with, or whether they revert to route one and their kicking game,” said Catt. “The beauty about the South African side is they have the ability to do all of it. When they come to Twickenham, they will see this as the main scalp they need to take. The bounce-back from South Africa is always huge. It is always a massively physical encounter.”
England led 14-11 at the break against New Zealand on Saturday before succumbing to a second-half fightback as the All Blacks eventually ran out 24-21 winners to land an early autumn blow to the Red Rose.
The reverse has placed England’s kicking game under the spotlight after head coach Stuart Lancaster replaced Kyle Eastmond with George Ford in the second half and moved Owen Farrell to inside-centre.
Lancaster was said to be considering picking Ford and Farrell together in a bid to maximise tactical kicking options although now looks set to retain faith in Eastmond, with South African-raised Catt adamant England need to box clever.
“We went away from the way we have played at the weekend and we have put that on the players,” he added. “The players understand who they are coming up against. We need to impose ourselves in terms of our physicality and our intelligence.”