Eddie Jones has created an “unstoppable” England team but cannot claim all the credit for their recent success, according to South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee.
Coetzee stated former England boss Stuart Lancaster also had a hand in England’s superb run of form, which has included nine wins out of nine under Jones this year.
England now turn their attention to the autumn internationals and their opening opponents South Africa, whom they host at Twickenham on Saturday.
Coetzee described Jones as a “flipping hard-working coach”, having worked with the Australian during the Springboks’ World Cup winning campaign in 2007. But he added that Lancaster’s role in laying a strong foundation for England should not be forgotten.
“I must also not take any credit away from Stuart Lancaster,” Coetzee said. “The big thing about Test rugby is it’s about players being given opportunities and then making mistakes. They made mistakes under Stuart but they got the exposure there. That helped.
“Take nothing away from Eddie, he understood the profile of the team and where they are, he changed captains, he hit the right buttons and that’s why they got the belief back.
“It’s funny, a team with confidence is a good team. It doesn’t matter about talent, if they ooze confidence and there is that cohesion and synergy then it is an unstoppable team.
“That’s where England are at the moment, they have that self-belief.”
While England have regrouped quickly since their humiliating World Cup exit one year ago, South Africa’s rebuilding process has been far from smooth.
They were hammered 57-15 by New Zealand — their heaviest ever defeat at home — in the Rugby Championship last month, ending a tournament that yielded only two wins from six.
Coetzee, who succeeded Heyneke Meyer in April, called for patience.
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee is not taking England’s injury crisis lightly. Clive Rose/Getty Images
“We lost six or seven players [after the World Cup] with all their knowledge and experience in crucial positions,” Coetzee said. “To replace that will take time.
“There’s always stuff after World Cups — reshuffles in management, leadership, in the team and culture, and player personnel. Obviously you never get it right just like that. A mindset change isn’t just one training session, it will always take time.”
Their latest fledgling at Twickenham will be Francois Venter, who has been handed his debut at outside centre, while four other players in the starting XV boast 12 caps or fewer.
It means only six taking to the field this weekend were part of the South Africa side that stunned England 31-28 in this fixture two years ago and Coetzee hopes they draw upon those memories for inspiration.
“They have to,” Coetzee said. “That’s what Test rugby is about. “It’s about knowing what to do, about not being overawed by the crowd and the pressure of being in a Test match.”
England will be without injured duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis from their pack but Coetzee is not taking any extra encouragement from the absentees.
“England are a very good team,” Coetzee said. “Although they have the injuries to Itoje and Kruis, you still look at that pairing of Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, [Dave] Attwood off the bench, it’s still a classy team and a team that has been together through the Six Nations and the tour of Australia.
“There’s a lot of continuity. This is what our players are really looking forward to — playing against the second best team in world rugby today and measuring themselves against those players.”
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