Durban - The rugby world is licking its lips in anticipation of tonight’s mouth-watering World Cup clash between the Springboks and Ireland, the two best teams on Earth, according to the World Rugby rankings.
Two former Bok captains John Smit and Jean de Villiers believe their team will get over the line in a titanic tussle, while current captain Siya Kolisi says rugby matches do not get bigger than this one, which pits the defending champions against the No 1-ranked side in the world.
Another current Bok, Steven Kitshoff, says the outcome will go to the team that wants it the most.
“The team that pitches up the most desperate and willing to work for those extra bits will come away victorious,” Kitshoff said in Paris yesterday.
“It’s going to be a close game. Both sides have a lot to play for. We have to make sure we perform well, and build on our momentum gained during the first two World Cup games.”
Captain Kolisi added: “This is as big as it gets. We are playing the No 1 team in the world in a crucial World Cup game – that is what you dream about as a child.
“They are an amazing side – they have won 14 in a row, so it’s going to take the best of us to beat them. I can see the excitement all around the world... everybody is keen for this game.”
Smit, the captain when the Boks beat England in the final in Paris in 2007, said the controversial ploy of the Boks to use seven forwards on their replacement bench, with just one backline player, will tip the scales in South Africa’s favour.
“There is some serious grunt coming from the Bok forwards, and I am not sure Ireland will be able to withstand it for 80 minutes,” Smit said.
De Villiers, the captain at the 2015 World Cup, added: “I love the simplicity of the Springbok plan.
“It is about the forwards getting on to tip and turning the screws, and then the backs put Ireland away when the defence gets tired towards the end of the game.
“It worked a few weeks ago when the Boks destroyed New Zealand in London, and I think it will work again.”
The Independent on Saturday