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De Villiers wary of England

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers believes much-improved England are a "different beast" two years on from their last clash.

None of the England team lining up at Twickenham on Saturday have beaten the two-time world champions as the winless run stands at 11 matches, since November 2006, including three losses and a draw in 2012.

But then De Villiers' men were not expected to beat New Zealand last month and did, ending the world champion All Blacks' 22-match unbeaten run, so he is not about to offer tips to England.

"A big part of our group never experienced beating the All Blacks and we managed to do that earlier this year," De Villiers said.

"It's the old thing about records, they're there to be broken. We certainly don't want them to do that.

"It's probably the team that's evolved the most and improved the most.

"You look back at that year (2012) and the four games that we played each other - not much between the two teams.

"They're a different beast now in 2014."

South Africa often raise their game against England and have a particular point to prove after following their All Blacks victory with a 29-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin last weekend.

"Rugby was born here," De Villiers said.

"As South Africans you grow up wanting to play New Zealand. Playing against England is not far behind that."

England have lost four in a row - all to New Zealand - and face the prospect of five straight defeats for the first time since 2006, when they lost seven in a row.

And England, who want results with less than a year to go to the Rugby World Cup on home soil, have beaten the three southern hemisphere giants on just two occasions in 12 Tests under Lancaster.

Asked what the difference will be for England to go from being improved to getting results, De Villiers said: "It looks like a happy team, so I can call that an improvement within their squad.

"Once you can create a good culture to work within and have guys happy within that culture, then results will come eventually.

"It takes time, it's not something that happens overnight.

"The unfortunate thing for them is that the other teams are on that same mission. We're trying to achieve the same thing.

"You'll be on the losing side at stages, but you'll be on the winning side at times as well.

"I don't want to give them reasons to improve on, I can assure you of that, but from the outside looking in, it seems like a team that's definitely getting there and we're very aware of that."

The Springboks are further on in their evolution than England, with De Villiers highlighting two examples.

His opposite number on Saturday is Kyle Eastmond, who will earn his sixth cap, and wing Bryan Habana's is Anthony Watson, who will be starting for the first time on his second appearance.

De Villiers has 103 caps and Habana 104.

Then there is 37-year-old Victor Matfield, the lock who has returned following three years of retirement, and flanker Schalk Burger, who was hospitalised with meningitis in early 2013.

Matfield will earn his 119th cap and 31-year-old Burger his 75th. England's most-capped player in the matchday 23 is hooker Dylan Hartley, who will play for the 59th time.

De Villiers added: "If you can bring two guys like that within a settled squad, it only improves a team. That experience, you can't buy that."

The Dublin defeat has sharpened the focus of the Springboks, who are determined to restore pride after sport in South Africa has been touched by tragedy in recent times.

"We've always seen this team and rugby, sport as such, as a tool to bring hope to the country, to bring unity," De Villiers added.

"That's why last week's performance hurts a little bit more. We did put all of that on our shoulders and I don't think we delivered in that regard.

"We did let our country down and ourselves down and we're going out to hopefully rectify that tomorrow."


From Belfast Telegraph