RUGBY : Ireland coach Declan Kidney refuses to be deceived by South Africa’s collapse in form.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney refuses to be deceived by South Africa’s collapse in form.
A hard-fought 32-10 victory over Italy is South Africa’s solitary success on a tour that has been blighted by defeats by Leicester, Saracens and France. Saturday’s Croke Park showdown matches the world champions against the Grand Slam winners in a contest that is being billed as ‘battle of the hemispheres’.
“I regret South Africa’s recent results because it means we’re now being lined up,” said Kidney. “They’ve beaten the Lions and have won the Tri-Nations so will be disappointed at the way things have gone in the last couple of matches.”
He added: “But not many teams go to the south of France and win. That’s the one they’ll be disappointed with.
“The midweek matches are hugely commercial, attractive fixtures but they’re very difficult for touring sides because of the travel that’s involved.
“This will be the last game of their season and we know we’re bit of a target.
“Because of their recent results we know they’ll have targeted us even more. Beating us on our own patch would be a fine end to the season.”
South Africa, who have been hit hard by injury, name their team at lunchtime today and Kidney has seen the damage their strongest line-up can do.
“At the start Italy were getting the upper hand in some of the scrummaging areas and winning their own line-out,” he said. “But when South Africa made their changes towards the end of the match they were giving Italy a rough time and were controlling the game.
“That’s not done easily against Italy. I expect those players that came on against Italy will start against us.”