Conor Murray has warned his Ireland team-mates to expect the unexpected from South Africa in Saturday’s huge Pool B World Cup match in Paris.
Murray knows Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber from his time at Munster, when he assisted Rassie Erasmus – now South Africa’s director of rugby.
“They are the type of guys who come up with new plans and tricky little things in new games,” said the scrum-half.
“So you have to be prepared for everything.”
Murray worked with Nienaber and Erasmus during their season in charge of the Irish province in 2016-17 before the duo combined to guide the Springboks to the 2019 World Cup.
Both sides go into the match following two wins from their opening games.
The Irish have been barely tested against Romania and Tonga while the Springboks had a decent contest in an opening 18-3 victory against Scotland before their much-changed line-up romped to a 76-0 win over the Romanians.
Murray, who started the 59-16 win against Tonga but is likely to be on the bench with Jamison Gibson-Park returning, said Ireland, who have scored 20 tries in their opening two matches, can expect to face a tough defence.
He said South Africa signalled their intent in terms of defence in their record 35-7 defeat of New Zealand in a warm-up match at Twickenham last month.
“They are a difficult outfit to play against, on both sides of the ball,” added the 34-year-old after Saturday’s win in Nantes.
“In terms of their defence, you have seen their defence, especially in Twickenham, so we need to try to navigate around that.”
Murray will be hoping for as memorable an experience as when he won his 100th cap last year against the same opponents in Dublin, Ireland winning 19-16.
“Playing the world champs in Paris, if that doesn’t get you excited, or even like tonight [after the Tonga match], when you’re listening to that atmosphere, one of the lads said it: ‘If you can’t enjoy this, then why are you here?’
“So, you have to embrace it too and enjoy the challenge. It’s going to be a massive challenge, world champions in a World Cup.”
Murray was thrilled to have his father Gerry back in good health as he cheered him on at Saturday’s game.
The scrum-half’s dad suffered serious injuries earlier this year after colliding with a truck while cycling in County Limerick but has now fully recovered.