England vs South Africa: Bryan Habana, Will Greenwood and Stuart Barnes on the set-piece battle

We asked Bryan Habana, Will Greenwood and Stuart Barnes to give their thoughts on the set-piece battle that will take place when England host the Springboks on Saturday at Twickenham, live on Sky Sports.

England have several absentees in the second row and back row, so it’s an area where South Africa will look to target some of the less experienced England players.

However, the Bok lineout struggled at times in the Rugby Championship, so the visiting hookers will need to be spot on with their jumpers this weekend.

England vs South Africa

November 3, 2018, 2:00pm

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Stuart Barnes says…

“Everyone loves Beast Mtawarira, but Steven Kitshoff has brought a new edge to South Africa’s scrum. New Zealand have a fantastic scrum but South Africa did alright against them both in Pretoria and Wellington.

“Their scrum looks strong whereas England’s – well who knows, it may be fantastic. However, Alec Hepburn, Ben Moon and even Kyle Sinckler himself are not hugely experienced players, so there has to be a question mark there.

“The other area is the lineout where South Africa seem to have options everywhere – from Eben Etzebeth at the front through to RG Snyman, to Pieter-Steph du Toit roaming and Duane Vermeulen who is really good.

“Look at the England backrow and it isn’t full of lineout options. If this game becomes territorial which I think it will, the ability to dominate this particular set-piece is crucial.

“This is one of the fundamental reasons why I think South Africa have the advantage.”

Bryan Habana says…

“From a South African point of view, that last game of the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks at Loftus, there were one or two lineouts that went begging, so Malcolm Marx will be looking to get back on point.

“Franco Mostert, who started in all but one of the Boks’ games in the Rugby Championship, is not available for this game so it’s down to Pieter-Steph du Toit to take charge of the lineouts for the Boks.

“They also will look to employ the driving maul on the back of their lineouts, something England will need to plan for whether it’s wet or dry at Twickenham.

“England have their own problems with Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury out injured, so they are a bit thinner in the second row than the Boks are, and for that reason, Dylan Hartley’s leadership abilities will be incredibly important on Saturday afternoon.

“England also have some inexperienced props, so it will be down to Hartley to lay down the challenge to the Springbok tight five and inspire those around him to follow his lead.”

Will Greenwood says…

“Whether it’s the biltong or the boerewors, South Africa just have gargantuan men! The Highveld farmers will always physically beat up the Wakefield plumber – okay there is a little bit of prejudice here, but they have always seemed to have a physical advantage.

“Sports science and professionalism have allowed England to close that gap but you always know that you have a heck of a set-piece battle on your hands when you play against South Africa.

“However saying that, I have no doubt that England can match them physically – it will just be a matter of absolute awareness that it will be the most physical battle of them all and you really have to step up.

“South Africa have some amazing lineout options but they can wobble – it is not imperious and I would not be surprised if England steal one or two.

“The Springboks will look to push hard in the scrum, they look to have got it right up front and will put England under huge pressure come scrum time. England’s loosehead Alec Hepburn is very inexperienced and he will certainly need the experience of Dylan Hartley, George Kruis and Maro Itoje around him.”

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action starts on Saturday, November 3 against South Africa before clashes against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

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