Boks taking 'unpredictable' pool opponents Scotland very seriously

Boks taking 'unpredictable' pool opponents Scotland very seriously

The recent rise of Scotland has caused a few additional headaches for the Springbok coaching staff as they look to negotiate a very tricky pool at the Rugby World Cup.

Pool B consists of several top sides - the Springboks, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania - making it arguably the toughest group in the competition as only two of the five teams can advance.

Top-ranked Ireland are already incredibly formidable opponents, to say nothing of how Tonga have been bolstered by the eligibility change laws, but now Scotland have also shown they are a serious prospect by pushing France to the brink in back-to-back matches, taking the first clash on home soil and very nearly coming back to win the second in France as well.

Naturally, the Boks have grown increasingly wary of the threat the Scots pose, and Eben Etzebeth admits their World Cup opener against Scotland will be one of the "most important games".

"It's going to be a tough tournament because there are quite a few teams that have played incredible rugby in the last season or two," Etzebeth said.

"Scotland are always a tough team to play against, as we saw when they beat France two weeks ago and narrowly lost to them on Saturday.

"The Scots are unpredictable and you can never write them off. This is going to be one of our most important games if we want to progress beyond the group stage."

Meanwhile, Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus insists the focus as a collective needs to be on Scotland and not beyond.

"All of us South Africans are putting our heads too far ahead," Erasmus said.

"Common sense says you must plan well and play well in our second [against Romania] and last [against Tonga] pool games because there are players there that can play.

"But we face Scotland in the first match. If we beat Scotland, then we've got a little more breathing space in the rest of the pool.

"Everybody's talking Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, but people are underestimating the importance of the Scotland game. Scotland will probably be saying, 'Why are you guys not talking about us?'"

The Springboks are currently in Cardiff as they face Wales this weekend before tackling the All Blacks in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up.

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