Italy coach Jacques Brunel has called South Africa “the form team of this November series” ahead of their clash in Padua on Saturday.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel has called South Africa “the form team of this November series” ahead of their meeting in Padua on Saturday.
South Africa ended New Zealand’s 22-game unbeaten run last month and despite losing to Ireland, they hit back against England last week.
Their head coach Heyneke Meyer has made four changes to his side for their tour finale, but Brunel believes his men still face a testing line-up.
“The Springboks are without doubt the form team of this November series. They had a great summer and also brought the All Blacks’ long winning streak to an end,” said Brunel ahead of Saturday.
“They’re a great squad, equipped with the tools to play an extremely efficient brand of rugby.
“We need the same tight defence we’ve adopted since the start of the season, and to try and impose some of our own game.
“It’s the tail end of South Africa’s season, while we’re only starting ours, and that could be a relevant factor. They showed their mettle after the defeat to Ireland by going to Twickenham and beating England.”
On paper, Italy look to have little chance of ending their eleven-game losing streak to Meyer’s finely-tuned side, who at Twickenham claimed their eleventh win from their past twelve games against next year’s World Cup hosts.
Ahead of meeting Italy for the twelfth time, Meyer will, for the first time, test the full-back potential of Johan Goosen, who replaces Willie Le Roux.
“This will be a big test for Johan. The Italy fly-half (Kelly Haimona) kicks tactically well, and so his positional play will need to be good,” he said.
He added on the changes to his pack that see Teboho Mohoje, Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane come in: “I’m excited to see what these guys can do on Saturday in what will be a stern test against a fired-up Italy.”
“They are a passionate nation with a very experienced coach in Jacques Brunel and a world-class captain in Sergio Parisse. The Italian pack is always formidable and their backs are not scared of taking chances.
“Our focus is to show improvements from our performance at Twickenham and we know it will be a big challenge on Saturday.”