Mike Brown axed by Eddie Jones for first time as England get Boks warning

World Cup legend Joel Stransky has warned England they are in for a bashing from the Boks this Saturday.

Stransky, whose extra-time drop goal won South Africa the 1995 World Cup final, says the tourists heading to Twickenham on Saturday are “men possessed”.

“This is a formidable outfit, full of big strong players,” he warned. “It will suit the conditions. They’re on a mission and they’re confident.”

Stransky factors into his thinking that England have lost half their forward pack to injury in Billy and Mako Vunipola, Chris Robshaw, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury.

“Us backs like to think we win games but actually they tend to be won and lost up front and this is a formidable Springbok pack of forwards, one I expect to dominate.”

To make matters more difficult for the home side Nathan Hughes is banned and Joe Marler has retired.

Yet still Eddie Jones chose yesterday to sacrifice another 72 caps worth of experience by dropping fullback-cum-wing Mike Brown for the first time – paving the way for Chris Ashton’s long-awaited return to the back three.

He also released forward trio Sam Underhill, Ben Morgan and Michael Rhodes from England’s training camp in Portugal.

“This Springbok team will be thinking, ‘if there’s ever an opportunity to come and beat England at Twickenham in the build-up to a World Cup, this is it’,” Stransky added.

“If there’s a team we enjoy beating almost as much as the All Blacks it’s England. To do it at the rugby mecca of Twickenham would be unbelievably special. This is an incredible opportunity.”

South Africa beat the world champion All Blacks in New Zealand last month and Stransky reckons they are a far better side to that which lost a dead rubber to England in the Cape Town rain in June.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” he cautioned. “(head coach) Rassie Erasmus is clever, his attention to detail is enormous.

“He’ll know England at home are always formidable but he’ll pick a team that is big, strong, powerful and suited to the conditions.”

Despite their problems England are favourites to get the four-Test autumn campaign off to a winning start – not least as Premiership clubs aren’t allowing Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux and Francois Louw to play.

Jones’ players are under no illusions what is heading their way – and claim they can’t wait.

“I’m incredibly excited,” said Maro Itoje. “English rugby is about being confrontational and these are the challenges you want to face.”

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