A new era dawns for the Springboks tomorrow when coach Heyneke Meyer sends his green and gold warriors into battle for the first time, aiming for an eighth consecutive triumph over England.

The clash at Kings Park in Durban is the first of three tests on consecutive weekends.

With further tests at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Saturday and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on June 23, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that South Africa could be 3-0 ahead by the end of the month.

It is hard to imagine a starker contrast in personality than that between shy Meyer and extrovert Peter de Villiers, whose reign ended soon after South Africa made a last-eight exit from the World Cup in New Zealand.


The 1995 and 2007 world champions failed to translate a feast of possession and good territory into points at the tournament before falling narrowly to Australia, and now it is hoped that 44-year-old former Northern Bulls handler Meyer can take them back to the top.

His introduction to the test arena has been far from ideal, Super Rugby commitments meaning he has had less than a week to prepare a squad lacking injured first choices Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Andries Bekker and Duane Vermeulen.

Meyer wanted veteran Fourie du Preez at halfback, but a heart-to-heart chat in Pretoria last week revealed that the player once the best in his position in the world was not battle-ready after a 10-week lay-off from Japanese club rugby.

While a Burger-Smith-Vermeulen back row would be a match for any test rivals, the absence of Bekker is the one that could be most dearly felt, as locks Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger are both uncapped.

Although Meyer raves about 20-year-old Etzebeth, England must feel that South Africa-born Mouritz Botha and Geoff Parling could give them an edge come lineout time.

The man England coach Stuart Lancaster must fear most is South Africa five-eighths and goal-kicker extraordinaire Morne Steyn.

Northern Bulls pivot Steyn was leading scorer at the last World Cup, is top of the charts in the Super Rugby this season and can plant the ball between the posts from any distance or angle.

Flank Marcell Coetzee is the third Springbok debutant in the team.


England have chosen test newcomers in loose-head prop Joe Marler and blindside flank Tom Johnson and only five of the 2010 losers remain - wings Chris Ashton and Ben Foden, halfback Ben Youngs and front rowers Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole.