Talking points ahead of Scotland against South Africa

Kettle Collective

So far this Autumn, Scotland have lost out in Wales and then defeated Fiji 54-17 at BT Murrayfield last weekend.

The sparkling second half performance against the South Sea Islanders – when they scored 33 unanswered points – lifted the Scots to sixth in the world.

The visitors to the national stadium in Edinburgh on Saturday are South Africa, who are currently fifth in the world, and with them coming off a last gasp victory in France and the hosts having won nine of their last 10 games at BT Murrayfield it is shaping up to be a cracker.

And it will be physical, oh so physical!

Certainly that is what opposing head coaches Gregor Townsend and Rassie Erasmus are expecting, so which Scotland players will be key if the home side are to keep their recent good run in the capital going?

Talking points ahead of Scotland v South Africa:

Huw is the man? Let’s hope it’s Jones

 Huw Jones by David Gibson FOTOSPORT

There is no doubt that Huw Jones is a superb player – 10 tries in 17 internationals tells us that.

However, in his most recent Test match his defence for a couple of Wales’s tries was questioned and the outside centre will be looking to bounce back in this one.

Given that he has spent a number of years in South Africa playing rugby before his move to Glasgow Warriors last year, he will know a number of his opponents and that will add extra spice for this one.

He and inside centre Pete Horne have a big job on their hands both in attack and defence, but Jones seems at home at BT Murrayfield.

 Townsend said this week about the 24-year-old:  “It’s a great game for him. He played a few seasons in South Africa and he’ll know a few of their players.

“He is fresh. He trained last week and was decisive in training. When he played well last year a lot of that was to do with how he trained. He has been sharp and can’t wait to get on the ball.”

Controlled Finn ready for the test

Finn Russell believes his game has become more controlled since he moved to France in the summer – and he knows he will need every ounce of that control against South Africa.

The 26-year-old stand-off played well last weekend as the Scots cranked things up a notch in the second half to see off Fiji.

Russell, who moved from Glasgow Warriors to Racing 92 for the start of 2018/19, knows they will have to take their performance up yet another level to compete this time around.

And the playmaker believes his game has come on in recent months and that he is ready for this test in his 39th international outing.

“I think it’s just how it’s panned out almost, that I have added a bit more control to my game,” Russell said.

“Going to Racing has been great for me as a player because I have had to establish myself as a player at 10 and become the decision maker who controls the game.

“For me to go and establish myself there, well it has been great for my career. I’ve had to do it a few times before – learning a slightly different style of rugby and adapt to new situations – this time it has been good for me.

“The culture’s been really good. It’s kind of similar to Glasgow at Racing, all of the boys are really close like a family. For me, it’s been easy to fit in and a lot of the boys speak good English as well.”

Matt is Proud to return to BT Murrayfield

 Matt Proudfoot roomed with Gregor Townsend on a rugby tour 20 years ago when they were players – now he is aiming to give the current Scotland head coach sleepless nights come the weekend.

Scotland and South Africa meet in the much-anticipated Autumn Test on Saturday evening at BT Murrayfield and on the coaching front it will be a case of ‘friends reunited’.

Proudfoot is now South Africa’s forwards coach, but with a grandfather that hailed from Kilmarnock he was able to earn four caps for Scotland between 1998 and 2003.

 He also played with Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor with the Border Reivers and looks back on his time in Scotland with great fondness.

Indeed on Wednesday Proudfoot utilised his day off to travel down to Melrose – the town where he first moved to when he arrived on these shores – with former team mate and current Scotland under-20 head coach Carl Hogg.

“They were special times in Scotland,” the 46-year-old said this week.

 South Africa training by David Gibson FOTOSPORT

Physicality is elementary my dear Watson

Scotland back-row Hamish Watson knows that South Africa will pose a physical challenge to Scotland, but he believes the way they dealt with England and France’s “massive” packs during the Six Nations means they are up for the challenge.

The Edinburgh Rugby openside will win his 22nd cap at BT Murrayfield.

The 27-year-old has never faced South Africa before and has been hearing all week about the size of the opposition he will be coming up against.

He said:  “It’ll be a big challenge, ut look at the Six Nations earlier this year. The French pack are pretty massive, as is the English, but we took on both of them and beat them both at Murrayfield. We’re confident that we can deal with their size.

“They are big men and the back-rows probably have a couple of stone on me, but we’re confident that we can deal with that.”

 Scotland squad

 15. Stuart Hogg V-C (Glasgow Warriors) – 63 caps

14. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 45 caps

13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps

12. Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 37 caps

11. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 35 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 38 caps

9. Greig Laidlaw C (Clermont Auvergne) – 64 caps

1. Gordon Reid (London Irish) – 32 caps

2. Stuart McInally V-C (Edinburgh) – 20 caps

3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 24 caps

4. Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 13 caps

5. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 45 caps

6. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 1 cap

7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 21 caps

8. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 39 caps

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps

17. Allan Dell (Edinburgh) – 15 caps

18. Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 12 caps

19. Josh Strauss (Sales Sharks) – 15 caps

20. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 4 caps

21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 18 caps

22. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps

23. Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 5 caps

South Africa squad

W le Roux; S Nkosi, J Kriel, D de Allende, A Dyantyi; H Pollard, E Papier; S Kitshoff, M Marx, F Malherbe, R Snyman, F Mostert, S Kolisi (C), P du Toit, D Vermeulen. Substitutes: B Mbonambi, T du Toit, V Koch, L de Jager, F Louw, I van Zyl, E Jantjies, C Kolbe.

Scotland v South Africa is on Saturday, November 17 at 5.20pm

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the images

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