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Springboks will rise to challenge.

Byline: Mark Smith Twitter: @markismith50

LOOD de Jager is used to operating in tight spaces, so the cramped corner of a Gateshead hotel dining room and a pack of hungry journalists poses little challenge for South Africa's giant lock-forward.

At 6ft 9in and 19st there is plenty of meat on the 22-year-old Springbok, every inch of which will be put to good use when they meet Scotland in today's Rugby World Cup battle at St James' Park.

Towering above a media huddle assembled from all corners of the rugby world, his message is one of simple respect for a Scotland side unbeaten thus far in the tournament.

South Africa certainly can't say the same, having been on the wrong end of the biggest upset in international rugby history a fortnight ago.

That was when Japan pulled off a miracle victory in Brighton, a humiliation from which South Africa appear to have responded.

Winning 46-6 in their second pool match with Samoa, De Jager knows they have it in them if they can stick to the script.

He said: "Scotland are one of the teams who have improved the most in world rugby, and it is defi-nitely a challenge for us.

"I am looking forward to the responsibility of calling the lineouts, and hopefully we can be dominant in the set-piece. That is what worked so well for us against Samoa, and what we need to repeat.

"There is always room for improvement and there are lots of things we didn't do well against Samoa.

"The result went our way but we have been working hard in the week, and it needs to be more of the same from the forwards if we want to get there."

Calling the line-outs in the absence of Springbok icon Victor Matfield, and with a new captain in Fourie du Preez, De Jager said: "Fourie has got a fantastic rugby brain and he knows the ins and outs of the game.

"He knows what works on the field and what doesn't, so I think it will be an easy transition for him. He is a guy we all respect, and if we listen to his instructions we will be fine.

"Jonny Gray and Richie Gray are both really great locks for Scotland. They are athletic and tall guys so it is definitely a challenge for me, but we have our plans in place. It is all about how we execute them.

"It is a World Cup so everyone is more motivated, and Scotland are now a much better team than when we last played them.

"We are up for the challenge, and it is going to be a good one."

SCOTLAND: S Hogg, T Seymour, R Vernon, M Scott, T Visser, D Weir, G Laidlaw (captain); G Reid, F Brown, WP Nel, R Gray, J Gray, J Strauss, B Cowan, D Denton. Replacements: R Ford, A Dickinson, J Welsh, T Swinson, R Wilson, S Hidalgo-Clyne, P Horne, S Lamont.

SOUTH AFRICA: W le Roux, JP Pietersen, J Kriel, D de Allende, B Habana, H Pollard, F du Preez (captain); T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, L de Jager, F Louw, S Burger, D Vermeulen. Replacements: A Strauss, T Nyakane, F Malherbe, P du Toit, W Alberts, R Pienaar, P Lambie, J Serfontein.

Kick-off: Today, 4.45pm.


Scotland lock Jonny Gray

| South Africa's Lood de |Jager is confident his side can continue to improve against Scotland at St James' today

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2015
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