Smit: England have advantage
Former South Africa captain John Smit believes England will be better prepared than the Springboks for Saturday's first Test in Durban.
Stuart Lancaster's side arrived in South Africa on Thursday for the three-Test series against the 2007 world champions.
Lancaster, now installed as full-time head coach, will be looking to build on the progress made during the RBS 6 Nations, although few are predicting a series win for the tourists.
But new South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer, formerly of Leicester, has a very short window of preparation for the opening game of the series at Kings Park.
This year 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.
And while the Boks will start as favourites, Saracens front-rower Smit, who lifted the World Cup in 2007, believes England's advantage in terms of preparation time could prove telling come Saturday.
He said: "In terms of the three Tests it is good for England with the first one in Durban.
"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."
While England are in South Africa, Ireland and Wales face similarly difficult challenges in New Zealand and Australia respectively, while Scotland will face the Wallabies, Fiji and Samoa on their travels.
European sides have historically fared woefully on their end-of-season tours to the southern hemisphere, but Smit believes that the strong performances by Ireland and Wales at last autumn's World Cup showed a narrowing of the gap.
"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."