England tour to South Africa
Smit: England have edge over Springboks
June 4, 2012
John Smit has backed England to succeed in Durban © Getty Images
Former South Africa captain John Smit believes England hold an advantage over the Springboks heading into the first Test in Durban this Saturday.
England arrived in South Africa last Thursday for the three-Test series, but new South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has less preparation for the opening game of the series at Kings Park. The Super Rugby season runs until August, meaning Meyer has had to wait for the weekend's provincial fixtures to be completed before gathering his squad, which includes nine uncapped players.
South Africa remain favourites to win the series at home, but Saracens front-rower Smit, who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, says England have the upper hand this weekend.
"In terms of the three Tests it is good for England with the first one in Durban," Smit said. "They went out there two or three days ago and they will be better prepared than South Africa so it is a good opportunity for them.
"And it's different for South Africa as they are coming straight in from Super Rugby. I don't know Heyneke personally but I would imagine he will be ready for this week, but I will be curious to see how that first Test goes."
Smit also believes the dominance of nations from the southern hemisphere is coming to an end. While European sides have traditionally fared poorly on end-of-season tours, Smit says England can win in South Africa, while Ireland and Wales can challenge New Zealand and Australia respectively in their coming matches.
"These games now are getting tougher and tougher," he said. "At the World Cup there were a lot of teams competing for a spot in the final.
"The game is growing and everyone is putting more time, effort and money in so I think the gap will continue to shrink and it's great for the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.