TOKYO – South Africa fullback Willie le Roux says 'x-factor' players could hold the key to success when two of the best defences in the Rugby World Cup clash as New Zealand and South Africa meet in Pool B in Yokohama on Saturday.
The world champion All Blacks have shifted Beauden Barrett to fullback to accommodate Richie Mo’unga at flyhalf, and will also rely on the relative inexperience of Sevu Reece and George Bridge on the wings, who have only eight caps between them.
The Springboks have a similar make-up with the experienced Willie le Roux in the number 15 jersey commanding a back three of Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi, who like their All Black counterparts are clinical finishers, but have just 10 more caps as a pair.
Le Roux has acknowledged there is unlikely to be much space in which to play on Saturday - though it does not look like it will be as wet as predicted - and believes that is where the Bok back three unit must try to open up the game.
"The team that plays in the right areas might have some advantages. In the systems of teams, you get those x-factor players," he told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday.