England head coach Eddie Jones insists his side have the weapons to disarm South Africa’s much-vaunted physicality and outwit the Springboks in other facets of the game during their autumn showdown on Saturday.
Jones showed his hand on Thursday and, as expected, centre Elliot Daly is set to make his first England start in place of Jonathan Joseph, while flanker Tom Wood and wing Jonny May return to the starting XV. Lock Courtney Lawes is poised to win his 50th cap.
The Red Rose have not beaten South Africa in their last 12 matches spanning a decade, although Jones appears unconcerned by history and believes his charges are on the cusp of bucking the unwanted trend.
“There are ways to get to South Africa and I think we’ll be smart enough to get to them,” said Jones. “Because of the overtness of their physicality they give you opportunities and we’ll take them.
“South African rugby has traditionally been about momentum; big ball carriers getting over the gain line, and nothing’s changed. We knew they would pick a mammoth back-row. If you’re not 6ft, 6ins you get shot and thrown out the door over there.
“But I think it’s funny when people talk about it being a big physical challenge. I told the players today ‘if you’re not physical in rugby you should be playing volleyball or curling’.”
Despite South Africa’s winning streak over England, the Springboks have lost five of their last nine matches. Jones, who was in charge of Japan as they pulled off a huge shock by beating the Springboks at last year’s World Cup, believes victory would represent another significant milestone in England’s quest to be the world’s best.
“We are an ambitious team and we want to be the No1 team in the world,” added Jones. “This is another step towards that and we are looking forward to it.
“They are coming off the back of a disappointing season but they will come to Twickenham all geared up and ready to go. We want to change the run of results against South Africa over a period of time.
“We have picked a strong side. There have been a lot of injuries but we haven’t given it any thought because we’ve been busy preparing for this game.”