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Johnson wary of wounded Springboks

Martin Johnson has warned England to expect a South African backlash at Twickenham after their defeat to Scotland marked a new low in a disappointing year for the Springboks.

South Africa finished bottom of the Tri-Nations and their 21-17 defeat at Murrayfield has left coach Peter de Villiers under increasing pressure. The last time the Springboks played at Twickenham a week after a defeat to Scotland, in November 2002, they lost all discipline and were thumped 53-3, but Johnson does not expect the current side to implode in the same way.

"They won't collapse under the pressure, put it that way," Johnson said. "They are world champions and they still have a lot of experience in the group. They have a huge amount of pride in being the Springboks, as we do with England. That is the fun. They are big occasions these Test matches."

He added: "We are going to have to play very well to beat South Africa. That hasn't changed in the history of the game. They are a bloody good team.

"They will come to Twickenham and bring all they have got. That is the challenge, let's relish it and see how we stand up. The game of rugby is physically intense. That is why you pick big strong guys who go and lift weights. You have to win those battles."

In 2006, England played South Africa at Twickenham with both head coach's jobs in the balance. The Springboks won and Jake White went on to lead his team to World Cup glory in 2007. England lost and Andy Robinson was sacked, although he was in charge of the Scotland side that won so famously last weekend.

"The pressure is there, yes. There is always pressure in this job," De Villiers admitted. "You should take this job and see how grey you become in five weeks.

"There are 22 players around you but there are the hopes of 43 million people at stake in every game.

"But that is the sort of pressure that Martin (Johnson) will experience too, and all of us coaches. You never get used to it. It just goes on and on.

"Saturday's performance wasn't a true reflection of the talent in this squad and the players want to put that right and end the Test season on a high."


From Belfast Telegraph