Gilchrist excited by SA clash

  • Last Updated: June 27 2014, 16:45 BST

Scotland's Grant Gilchrist is viewing Saturday's clash with South Africa with excitement not trepidation.

Grant Gilchrist: Says Scotland are looking at themselves, not the Springboks
Grant Gilchrist: Says Scotland are looking at themselves, not the Springboks

The tourists are encouraged by results so far this summer, including victory in Argentina, but know that facing South Africa on their own patch is by far the toughest challenge they have faced since the current coaching regime took over at the start of the month.

Edinburgh lock Gilchrist, who will be leading Scotland for the second time, said: "Playing against South Africa, the number two side in the world, is exciting.

"It is always good to go against these players who have been there, done it and you can test yourself against the best. That is what I want to do.

"Argentina [who Scotland beat last weekend] was a big test up front and we came through that pretty well.

"There are areas of the game that disappointed us but we are just looking to improve and we need to do that this weekend.

"We know South Africa at home is massive, we are just looking at ourselves and how we can improve."

The Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth is close to selling out and local organisers are confident it will be full for the game, adding to the sense of excitement for the two teams.

There is, however, an experimental look to both, with the English and French's refusal to release players costing the Scots 12 players from the squad that started the tour in the USA - and also affecting the Springboks, who have had to send seven back to Europe.

That partly accounts for the fact that both sides have only eight of the squad who faced each other in Nelspruit a year ago still on duty.

Scotland gave their hosts an almighty scare but could not close out the win and Gilchrist said: "Last year the guys that played did really well and defended at an intensity that we know we need to match - if we don't we won't be giving ourselves a chance.

"It shows a standard we need to reach and better because we did not get the result. That is all we can take from it.

"Their squad is going to be talented. Though there are a few new faces they will all have played a lot of Super Rugby and will be raring to prove themselves so it will probably not make much difference.

"We just need to make sure that we don't drop off in the the last quarter and that our bench bring more than their bench if we are at the point where our starting 15 have done well."

With such a new-look side the buzzword, Springboks captain Victor Matfield said: "It is a big opportunity for these guys.

"The nice thing is that we have a big squad and they have been in the system for four weeks.

"Now they have the opportunity and must show what they can do. They have to go out and perform.

"It is great to see these young players coming in, they are so full of enthusiasm you almost have to slow them down at training and make sure they are also accurate, they just want to go."

Teams:

South Africa: W le Roux (Cheetahs); C Hendricks (Cheetahs), J Pietersen (Sharks), J Serfontein (Bulls), L Mvovo (Sharks); H Pollard (Bulls), F du Preez (Bulls); C Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), B du Plessis (Sharks), J du Plessis (Sharks), L de Jager (Cheetahs), V Matfield (C) (Bulls), M Coetzee (Sharks), S Burger (Stormers), D Vermeulen (Stormers). Replacements: A Strauss (Cheetahs), T Nyakane (Cheetahs), M van der Merwe (Bulls), S Lewies (Sharks), T Mohoje (Cheetahs), F Hougaard (Bulls), M Boshoff (Lions), Z Kirchner (Leinster).

Scotland: S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Maitland (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), P Horne (Glasgow Warriors), T Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); D Weir (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors); A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Glasgow Warriors), T Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh), R Harley (Glasgow Warriors), C Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors), A Ashe (Glasgow Warriors). Replacements: K Bryce (Glasgow Warriors), M Low (Glasgow Warriors), E Murray (Glasgow Warriors), J Gray (Glasgow Warriors), T Holmes (Glasgow Warriors), G Hart (Edinburgh), D Fife (Edinburgh), P Murchie (Glasgow Warriors).

Referee: G Jackson (New Zealand).