Rassie Erasmus has insisted no South African will ever write off an Eddie Jones team after he inspired Japan to the World Cup’s greatest giant-killing.
Erasmus claimed every South African can tell you exactly where they were when Jones’ Japan shocked the Springboks 34-32 in Brighton on September 19, 2015.
And South Africa’s current rugby director says the Springboks will never underestimate a team coached by wily Australian Jones – least of all England in Saturday’s Twickenham Test clash.
England head into their first autumn clash beset by an injury crisis that has bitten hardest up front – but Erasmus refused to accept the hosts will lack for power or guile as a result.
“That day and game is something any South African can always tell you where they were sat, where they were when they watched that game,” said Erasmus.
“That’s why words can always bite you. Eddie is a sharp coach. He knows a lot about South Africa. He helped us win the World Cup in 2007.
“He knows our players and playing style. We’ve played (England) in June, it’s only four or five months down the track. So we are used to one another, these two teams.”
Alec Hepburn will make his first start on just his third cap at loosehead on Saturday, with his uncapped Exeter team-mate Ben Moon taking a seat on England’s bench.
Erasmus pointed to Springboks full-back Damian Willemse and scrum-half Ivan van Zyl both winning their fourth caps at Twickenham as evidence both sides are plugging their respective gaps.
“I wouldn’t say they have a weakness; maybe us not knowing them so well might be to their advantage,” he added.
“It’s not people you see every weekend at Test match level. There’s a few new faces we haven’t faced before, but doing our homework on them, they look quality players.
“I guess if I say they are thin up front, they will say between nine and 15 we have two or three caps. I wouldn’t say that’s a weakness for them.
“The minute we underestimate them, we’d be surprised.”
Sale flanker Tom Curry slots into an injury-hit and inexperienced England back-row, but Erasmus has warned his Springboks to beware of the 20-year-old’s precocious breakdown talents.
Curry starred when England pulled off a 25-10 victory over South Africa in Cape Town to end the summer tour with a 2-1 Test series defeat.
“If you underestimate the new names, they bite you,” said Erasmus.
“Curry we didn’t know that well in June: we knew he was good over the ball, we knew he had a twin brother – but that’s about all we knew about him.
“And then he really got stuck in there at Newlands, he was one of the big, big reasons why we lost that Test match.
“So for a young guy like that to step up and come to South Africa and do so well against a full Springbok team is really a tap on his shoulder.
“So that’s why I’m really very nervous of faces I don’t know so well. He’s a quality player.”
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