Tendai Mtawarira missed the last Springbok Test against the All Blacks, but is likely to wear the No 1 jersey against Ireland on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DUBLIN – Ireland are a very intelligent rugby side who are well-coached, and the Springboks will have to prepare well to meet an extremely tough challenge when the two sides meet on Saturday in Dublin.

That is according to Springbok scrum coach Matt Proudfoot.

Proudfoot was flanked by loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira when he addressed the media at the team hotel in Dublin on Tuesday.

The Springboks meet Ireland on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in the first of four matches. 

The two sides last met in June 2016 in South Africa, when the Springboks rallied back from a loss in Cape Town to win a thrilling series 2-1.

Proudfoot echoed Springbok coach Allister Coetzee in praising the Irish as a very good Test side.

“They are very intelligent in terms of what they present to you. With them, it’s just not about brute force among their forwards, but they always present you with different challenges,” Proudfoot said.

“We have to be alert and sharp in how we confront them, so therefore you have to be well-prepared in all aspects. We have made good strides as a pack this year, and on Saturday, we will be looking to continue to evolve as a pack.

“They are a well-coached team and have a system that works for them and for Irish rugby. They are well-conditioned and in great shape to challenge us,” added Proudfoot.

Mtawarira (95 caps) did not play in the last Test outing against the All Blacks in Cape Town, where the New Zealanders won an epic contest by one point.

According to Proudfoot, it is great to have the prop back and he praised the front-ranker for his contribution to the team.

Springbok scrum coach Matt Proudfoot says Tendai Mtawarira is one of the lieutenants to captain Eben Etzebeth. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

“Beast is playing the best rugby of his career, and he is improving with each match that he plays. He and Steven Kitshoff are forming a great combo as looseheads – they complement and back each other in a fantastic way, with each giving us a very good performance whenever they get on to the field,” reckons Proudfoot.

He also praised the leadership qualities of the most experienced Springbok prop in history.

“His leadership qualities are really good, and internally in the pack, he brings a sense of calmness and focus, while he and Siya Kolisi are good lieutenants to the captain Eben Etzebeth.”

Meanwhile, the Springboks continued their preparations on Tuesday with a split training session.

The forwards performed lineouts and scrums at the Belvedere Rugby Club, while the backs went through their paces at the Donnybrook Stadium.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will name his match-23 on Thursday.

African News Agency (ANA)