Troubled Boks entering home straight
November 19, 2010
Ryan Kankowski returns at No.8 for South Africa © Getty Images
South Africa travel to Murrayfield this weekend to take on Scotland in the penultimate leg of a possible Grand Slam tour.
Despite their scare in Cardiff last weekend the Springboks are two from two so far and face a home side whose confidence will have been badly shaken by the 49-3 hammering dished out by New Zealand last weekend.
While Scotland's on-field woes have been well documented it has been a difficult week for the tourists off the pitch after Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Ralepelle were sent home for failing drugs tests and Bryan Habana saw his season ended by a broken hand in training.
Test rugby is no place for baggage and both sides will need to hit their mark come kick-off - the losers will have to face up to some difficult truths.
Scotland - Player to Watch: There was precious little for Scotland to cheer last weekend but Nathan Hines' second-half cameo at least gave them some grunt. The former Lions tourist has been picked out of position at blindside though, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his hard-hitting style at as many breakdowns as possible.
Scotland - Team News: Robinson has made five changes to his side, with Hines one of them. Gloucester scrum-half Rory Lawson is recalled in place of the injured Mike Blair and takes the captaincy while Nikki Walker returns on the wing and Gloucester's Jim Hamilton misses out to the recalled Scott McLeod in the second-row. Northampton centre Joe Ansbro wins his first cap after being called up to cover the injured Max Evans.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo wins his first cap after Bryan Habana's broken hand ended his tour and any Scottish players expecting an easy ride will get a rude awakening from a player boasting great pace and power.
South Africa - Team News: Mvovo slots into a side showing a number of changes. Gio Aplon shifts to the wing in place of Basson and Zane Kirchner wins a recall at fullback as a result. Francois Hougaard is back in action at scrum-half and Sharks back-rower Ryan Kankowski takes over from Pierre Spies at No.8.
Key Battle: Scotland have sacrificed grunt for aerial ability in the second-row as MacLeod steps up and he will need a big game both at the set-piece and in the loose. While South Africa's lineout is a potent weapon it is their maul that could do the real damage at Murrayfield.
Trivia: There are three survivors in the Scotland side from their last win over South Africa back in 2002. Walker and Chris Paterson started on the wings that day while Hines was introduced from the bench.
Stats: Hines and Paterson can move clear at the top of Scotland's appearances chart against the Springboks this weekend - they are currently on eight along with Scott Murray and Jason White.
"They're looking forward to playing against a side that's very physical and they know where South Africa are going to be running, they know how tough this game's going to be and it's about getting back on the horse and showing what we can do." - Scotland boss Andy Robinson
"This one for us is an opportunity, with some things in the future in mind, to see how on a par our players are. We know how good they are, but whether they fit into the team only on the field of play is where you will find out." - South Africa coach Peter De Villiers defends his selection
Prediction: South Africa have shown on tour so far that they are not lacking in guts and they will grind out another victory this weekend against a Scotland side lacking the sharpness to hurt them out wide.
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