Springbok loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira attributed on Sunday South Africa's dominant scrummaging against England in the first Test to work during the week with new scrum coach and former France international Pieter de Villiers.
The Springbok scrum dismantled England at the set-piece, helping to set up a 22-17 victory in Durban on Saturday.
England conceded two penalties and three free-kicks at the scrum as South Africa's starting front row of Mtawarira, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and tighthead Jannie du Plessis dominated from the outset. Replacement prop Coenie Oosthuizen and hooker Adriaan Strauss carried on the good work in the final quarter.
“We worked very hard on our scrum and had some good sessions during the week with Pieter de Villiers and it was a good start. He was a great scrummager in his time and he is a great well of knowledge, the best guy to learn from,” Mtawarira told reporters.
“Everyone was able to do as expected of him and we had a couple of new faces (debutant Oosthuizen and the recalled Strauss) that gelled together well. We can definitely take a lot of confidence out of our scrumming in the first Test.”
De Villiers, who is South African-born but played 69 Tests in the French front row, has been putting the Springboks through a routine that has them spending a lot of time crawling on the ground. The exercises have strengthened muscles and also helped the home side dominant the crucial collisions in the second half against England.
“We needed to get used to each other in the first half, but in the second half we got into our game, we got on the front foot,” said Mtawarira, who was at the forefront of the battle.
Fullback Zane Kirchner suffered a knee injury and Springbok media manager De Jongh Borchardt said his fitness was the one serious injury concern. – Reuters