Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, surprised English media with his open-ness at Tuesday’s media conference at the team’s Tokyo Bay hotel as final week kicked off in earnest.
“The big thing is that we’ve only got two days of training sessions so not a lot will change,” said Erasmus.
“I guess you can expect pretty much the same from us on Saturday. With 160 minutes of training in a six-day turnaround there’s not a lot you can do in those training sessions.
"If you have a seven-day or an eight-day turnaround you might change a few things with a couple of new starter moves or stuff like that. But there’s not a helluva lot you can change in six days.”
One English journalist noted that it was unusual for a coach to be so open with his plan in the week of a test: “Are you bluffing?” he asked.
Simple answer from Erasmus: “No, I’m not bluffing.”
He was equally forthcoming on selection. Although the team will only be officially named on Thursday, Erasmus also explained his thinking in that direction.
“The team will be exactly the same 23 with Cheslin Kolbe being one of the guys that will probably come into the match day 23,” he said.
“We believe that’s the way we can get the best out of our team and get longevity from the forwards in terms of a six-day turnaround. But we also believe it’s our most fit, in-form, best available, and best combination team we can pick.”
Erasmus was as clear sighted on the challenge posed by England – quickly installed as favourites by pundits and neutral observers alike.
“What I am expecting on the field is a very well coached England team; a fit England team with a great tactical plan,” he said.
“The physicality that England brought to New Zealand last week was next level. I thought it was a long time since I’ve seen an England team pitch up with that amount of physicality.
“They must be brimming with confidence and I’m sure they’re ready to bring that same intensity to us. We will have to be really up to try and match that.”
Calling England’s bluff? We’ll find out on Saturday (kick off 11h00 SA time).