England look to get over their poor Six Nations campaign as they take on South Africa in the first match of a three Test series. If England were looking for an easy few games to get their confidence back, they’ll have to think again as a tour of South Africa is one of the toughest going.
Here are our thoughts and best rugby union bets ahead of Saturday’s first Test.
England looking to bounce back from Six Nations horror show
Prior to the Six Nations, Eddie Jones had enjoyed a near perfect record as the England Head Coach. In the 23 games he had been in charge for, he had only tasted defeat once and his side had gone from strength to strength.
However, his side came back to earth with a heavy thud during the tournament with losses against Scotland, France and Ireland and many England fans must have been worried by the frailties that Jones’ men showed during those defeats.
While a team doesn’t become bad overnight, Jones must have been concerned by how poor his side were and he’ll be hoping for a change in fortunes against the Springboks.
England are 5/4 for victory in the first test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Boks hoping for a change of fortune under new coach
They face a South African side who are going through a lean patch of form which has seen them win just two of their last nine international matches.
They are now under new stewardship with Rassie Erasmus taking over the reins from Alistair Coetzee who was dismissed in January after two difficult years in the role where he won just 11 of his 25 matches in charge.
Plenty of their stars players apply their trade abroad such as Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen and they are counting the cost of that with Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn missing from this one due injuries suffered while playing for Montpellier.
Home field advantage could prove key for SA
You only have to look through the recent results in South Africa to see how hard a challenge England have. England haven’t won there since June 2000 and the recent record between the two sides doesn’t read well for Eddie Jones either.
In the last 13 matches between the two, South Africa have won 11 of them, and by an average margin of over 11 points.
The Boks have been in poor form recently and that does give England hope, but for me home field advantage is key here and I’ll be backing South Africa -4.5 at Evens.