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Johann Van Graan: England's scrum leads the pack

By Nick Purewal

South Africa are steeling themselves to face an England pack regimented by "one of the best forwards coaches in the world" at Twickenham on Saturday.

Springbok forwards coach Johann van Graan hailed England counterpart Graham Rowntree for creating a "world-class scrum", while calling on South Africa to sharpen up after last weekend's 29-15 defeat to Ireland.

Van Graan revealed boss Heyneke Meyer has led several Springboks fact-finding missions to England, where the two sets of coaches have traded ideas and forged lasting friendships.

"Graham Rowntree is, in my opinion, one of the best forwards coaches in the world and a good friend of mine," said Van Graan, who doubles as South Africa's attack coordinator.

"We coached against each other for the first time in 2012, what a great guy and what a great coaching staff.

"I'm sure we're going to have a drink before and after the game.

"We're much bigger than just ourselves and just this Test match, it's about the game, and what a fantastic coaching group they have, and they are good friends of ours."

Van Graan believes former Leicester and England prop Rowntree has built a pack that is now the envy of the world under boss Lancaster.

"You've just got to look at the way their forwards conduct themselves on and off the field, the way they prepare, they are always well-prepared at lineout time in attack and defence," said Van Graan.

"They have a pretty solid maul.

"They put us under pressure in South Africa two years ago; we played them four times that year.

"It's a world-class scrum and a world-class plan.

"Whenever we come up against them we know it's a challenge."

South Africa may look to parachute Patrick Lambie in at fly-half to face England ahead of fast-rising star Handre Pollard.

Head coach Meyer wants his Rugby World Cup 2015 squad all-but nailed down by the end of the current tour, and is intent on giving opportunities to impress this month.

Belfast Telegraph

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