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‘SA physique will be the big test,’ Rowntree warns Euro URC teams



Former England prop Graham Rowntree has sounded a warning to the European teams in the United Rugby Championship who head to South Africa for a series of matches from next week.

South Africa will host their first matches in the competition from next week, following the postponement of matches in December. Several teams will be in South Africa for a few weeks.

Rowntree, now forward alongside Johann van Graan at Munster, said it was one thing to know what to expect in South Africa, but it was another to deal with it on the pitch.

“I have no doubt they will be good against us at home,” Rowntree told Irish media about the four South African teams.

‘They will be waiting for us. There will be some great places for our boys to challenge themselves and play rugby against some of the top teams in some of the top stadiums in an amazing country.

“It’s a country I’ve been to more than any other country in the world. It’s a great rugby country. Our players will know what to expect from the analysis we showed them. Physically, there is no denying it in South African teams.

“You know what’s coming. But it’s another thing to deal with. It will be a real test of the basics of our game.”

‘It’s not fair’

Rowntree said it was “not fair” to see the size of some South African players.

“Look at the Lions’ games and see how big their team is. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. They’re huge guys, and that’s a real strength of their game, the Lions. So that’s what we’re with have to do with the Lions game.

“The Bulls, physical breakdown. They have a physical disadvantage. Big men run very fast towards you on the Highveld. It’s a bit of a different challenge than we’re used to, but it’s a challenge we’re ready for.

“But we’re just training for it. We’ve done it before. There will be nothing strange for these guys that they have never experienced before. It’s just something they might not be used to week in, week out.”

Next week’s SA URC matches

Friday: Sharks v Scarlets 7pm

Saturday: Bulls v Munster 4 pm

Sunday: Lions v Cardiff 4pm, Stormers v Zebre 6pm

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