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Friday, May 24, 2024
Other SportsSpringboks unchanged as they eye 2019 repeat against England

Springboks unchanged as they eye 2019 repeat against England

South Africa are hoping the experience of winning the 2019 World Cup final against England will prove pivotal in Saturday’s last-four clash in Paris.

The Springboks prevailed 32-12 four years ago in Japan and today named 15 players from that meeting in the 23 for this weekend’s re-match.

It also means an unchanged matchday group from that which beat tournament hosts France in such thrilling fashion on Sunday.

Coach Jacques Nienaber said: “We’ve been building a quality squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches.

“We have a squad of 33 players, all of whom are very closely matched in terms of their skill and quality of play which made it tempting to make changes this week and it was tough to select this group both last week and this week. But we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.

“This may not have much significance, but the fact remains that these players have been here before, and they know what it will take to defeat a top-quality team such as England.

“Competition for places in the team is very tight and the coaches had a few in depth discussions before finalising the team.

“We have players like Lukhanyo Am, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Jasper Wiese, Jean Kleyn, and the list goes on, who are all good enough to be in this team and would have fitted in and done the job just well as the other players.

“But we can only select 23 and everyone in this group is aligned and understands that the country comes first.

“We are playing for our friends, family and the 60 million people at home who have been supporting us through thick and thin and we are determined to continue giving them hope and something to smile about.”

South Africa are overwhelming favourites against an England side that saw off Fiji to make the semis, but Nienaber remains wary of Steve Borthwick’s men.

“They come off five victories in a row and they are high on confidence. They have a quality pack and world-class backs who can create magic on the field, and those who are writing them off are making a major mistake,” he added.

“Like us, they are one game away from a World Cup final and we’ve seen through the history of the tournament that England raise their game for these matches. If we lose, we have to play the third-place play-off – which no team wants to do.

“We are closely matched in terms of average player age and caps, both teams are used to playing on the biggest stage. This is do-or-die if either of wants to the lift the trophy next week, so neither side will give an inch.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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