Johnson expecting the Springboks best game

England team manager Martin Johnson says that he is not reading anything into South Africa’s shock defeat to Scotland and has warned his players that the Springboks are still capable of beating anyone on their day.

“They are coming off a loss but we are playing a very good team and we will have to play at a very high level,” he said.

“It is another week and another challenge and we’re looking forward to a full-blooded Test match.

“They have been around the block. There are a lot of caps, experience and pride in there,” Johnson said, pinpointing the experienced South African line-out as a key battleground.

“(Victor) Matfield, (Bakkies) Botha and (Juan) Smith are the premier group that has been around for a few years now,” Johnson said.

South Africa have secured close wins over Ireland and Wales with the best squad they have available as an almost an entire team has been ruled out to injury.

England have a new team and have secured strong victories over Australia and Samoa last week but for the match against the Springboks they have named their strongest team.

“Last week we were pretty pleased with the way we handled the game but it will be a different challenge again on Saturday.

“Some of our guys have not played South Africa in a Test match before and we are preparing them for what it is like.”

Johnson meanwhile smiled when asked if he believed England, who have beaten Australia home and away in recent months and caused problems for New Zealand, were close to being the finished article.

“I get a little bit concerned when people start talking about being the finished article,” Johnson said.

“Two weeks ago everyone was talking about Australia and three days later they’d lost two games and suddenly the world’s turned upside down.

“In no way are we anywhere near the finished article – I don’t think you ever are the finished article.

“There’s a lot of young players … but the great thing for us is every week it’s something new and something to get better from. The experience the guys get from it is all new.

“Every week is a different challenge, and we have to handle it with the intensity you need at Test match rugby.”

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