De Villiers: England are a different beast in 2014

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has said that his team are wary of a “much-improved” England side and that their unbeaten run will mean nothing when the match kicks off at Twickenham.

In the years surrounding the 2003 Rugby World Cup England dominated South Africa but since the second test between the nations in 2006 South Africa have not lost a Test to England.

England earned a draw against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2012 but South Africa remain unbeaten in their last 11 tests against 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 during a news conference at the two-time world champions’ London hotel.

“It’s the old thing about records, they’re there to be broken. We certainly don’t want them (England) to do that,” the centre added ahead of South Africa’s first match against England in almost two years.

“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, in common with many sides, have no difficulty in getting motivated for a match against England and will have a special incentive on Saturday after following their win over the All Blacks with last weekend’s surprising 29-15 loss to Ireland in Dublin.

“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 beaten the three southern hemisphere giants of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia just twice in 12 Tests under Lancaster, raising questions as to whether the 2015 World Cup hosts are really serious contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy next year:

However, 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.”

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