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Erasmus names Springboks team aimed at nullifying ‘much-improved’ Japan threat

Credit: Reuters - Sports
Published on October 17, 2019 - Duration: 03:22s
Erasmus names Springboks side for Japan clash
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Erasmus names Springboks team aimed at nullifying ‘much-improved’ Japan threat

SHOWS: TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE 2.

VARIOUS OF NEWS CONFERENCE STARTING 3.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING: "The team selection is threefold.

First of all, the matchday 23 is probably our best, in-form, currently fit players that we have selected.

That is why we went with a six (forwards), two (backs) split (on the bench).

Secondly, it is to nullify the space that they normally create around tight forwards with their speed that they have.

And then the third one, correctly as you say, is to play towards our strengths, which is physical rugby, set-phases, mauling, scrums. So yes, we will try to play the game at our pace and they will try to play the game at their pace." 4.

NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY 5.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING: "If you talk about Japan, I think they fully believe they can beat us.

I think if you asked their coach, Jamie (Joseph), do they think they are the favourites, he would deep down in his heart say yes they are the favourites.

I think, if I am honest with you, I think yes we are the favourites.

I am not one of those coaches who will sit here and say to you that we are not really sure because we prepare to win.

That doesn't make it any easier to win but we analyse, we prepare, we do our best to be as ready as we can and I am 100% sure that Jamie does the same and his team really feel deep down that inside.

Although sometimes people say that they (Japan) can just go out and enjoy it, I really believe they believe they can beat us." 6.

NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY 7.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING: "So, you could try a few things and play with a little bit more freedom (in World Cup warm-up match against Japan).

So, I think that result is almost irrelevant.

Then, I think that puts the Brighton test match out of the way because you are only as good as your last game, so we can forget Brighton and we can forget Kumagaya.

We can now focus on the quarter-finals." 8.

NEWS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY 9.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH, RASSIE ERASMUS, SAYING: "The way Japan has improved since that game that they played against us there, is tremendous.

Because they have beaten Ireland, beaten Scotland and topped the pool.

They have done it in style.

Saying that they have improved is true but we feel that we have also improved a lot since we played that game (World Cup warm-up).

Apart from four minutes against New Zealand when we conceded two tries, apart from that we think we have played really good rugby and scored a lot of tries.

It will be a great clash on Sunday (October 20) to see who has made the biggest improvement and then, the biggest thing is there are big expectations in the quarter-final, it is not a friendly, it is who handles the pressure the best and the expectations the best." 10.

NEWS CONFERENCE ENDING STORY: Cheslin Kolbe has returned from an ankle injury he sustained against Italy to be named in South Africa's starting side for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against tournament hosts Japan on Sunday (October 20).

Kolbe, who scored two tries against Italy, missed the Springboks final Pool B match against Canada as a precaution to ensure he was ready for the quarter-finals.

Coach Rassie Erasmus had rotated his squad through the pools to ensure they all had game time before the quarter-finals, but settled on the same matchday squad that played against Italy with a 6-2 split between forwards and backs in the replacements.

He said his team selection was aimed at both nullifying Japan's strengths - namely their speed on the outside - and focusing on keeping the match physical, which should favour the Springboks.

Erasmus also said he believes both teams will fancy themselves as favourites coming into the match.

Japan won the last World Cup meeting between the two teams famously four years ago in Brighton, but South Africa gained a certain level of revenge, overturning the hosts 41-7 in a World Cup warm-up match last month.

Erasmus believes both sides have improved since that encounter and Sunday's result could be decided by who handles the pressure and expectations the best.

(Production: Jack Tarrant)

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