Scotland v South Africa
White after Springbok scalp
November 14, 2008
Jason White insists that South Africa hold no fears for Scotland © Getty Images
Jason White insists world champions South Africa hold no fears for Scotland ahead of tomorrow's Murrayfield meeting.
Flanker White was part of the team beaten 32-6 by an experimental New Zealand XV last weekend, while Scotland have failed to score a try at home for 14 months.
But their most experienced forward today described a camp bursting with confidence, and one which views the Springboks clash as a massive opportunity to gain a rare southern-hemisphere scalp.
"Without a doubt, we are massive underdogs," the Sale star said. "They are world champions and rugby is a massive thing in their country, but we're going in with the attitude that we can win so long as we perform well.
"South Africa are the world champions and they are vying with New Zealand to be the top team in the world, but we've got to believe that if things go our way we are capable of winning - and I think we do believe in each other and in what our new coaches are saying."
White draws confidence from his memories of being in the Scotland side which beat South Africa in 2002, as well as running them close on a handful of other occasions.
However, he reckons the youngsters in Frank Hadden's squad are even less overawed by the size of the task facing them.
"When we beat South Africa at Murrayfield in 2002, I remember when we went over there prior to the World Cup in 2003 and should have won. I remember when things could have gone for us in Port Elizabeth in 2006 but a couple of decisions didn't go our way.
"Obviously, that is not the case with the young guys, but to be honest I don't know if the likes of Nick De Luca, Ben Cairns and Thom Evans have any fear of these teams because they've never played them before.
"I don't think there was any evidence last week of us being in awe of the All Blacks and standing off them. It was a great sign that our young guys went out there and had a go - they weren't in the slightest bit intimidated - everyone just really had a blast at them.
"We made lots of opportunities and we just want to take the next step which is finishing these breaks off. We've got the belief and we've now got the ability to do that."
White is not unduly concerned about Scotland's try-scoring record in recent matches, they have only crossed six times in their last 10 Tests.
He said, "I think it is about composure around their 22; and I know Frank got a bit of stick for saying it, but he was right: sometimes it's just the way the ball bounces. The number of balls that haven't bounced for us, I'm sure we're due a few which will sit up for us and might result in tries."
White's inclusion in tomorrow's XV was perhaps the most controversial aspect of Hadden's team selection.
Up until last season, the former Scotland captain would have been the first name down on any team-sheet, but after injuring his knee in the autumn of 2006 he has struggled to recapture the form which had made him one of the most feared tacklers in world rugby.
This season, he has been a fringe player for Sale and he admitted going into last Saturday's match against New Zealand slightly "undercooked".
He said, "I was really happy with the way the match went for me. I could have done some things a lot better, but there were certainly some things I took out the game as positives and I just need to try and build on it this week.
"Hopefully I can stake my claim this weekend with a strong performance to be involved again next week, and then fight for selection at Sale and be involved in the Six Nations."
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