Duane Vermeulen and teammates during the Springboks training session at the Arcs Urayasu Park Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

DURBAN – As the kick-off between the Springboks and All Blacks in Yokohama draws tantalisingly nearer, neither team wants to adopt the favourites tag, and Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk predicts that the game will be decided on the bounce of the ball.

It is going to be that close and just maybe, as the Boks have been at pains to point out this week, referee Jerome Garces of France will be the deciding factor.

“In the last four games between us and the All Blacks, there have been just two points in it,” De Klerk said. “We’re confident that we can win, but I think this game is going to be 50/50.

“I don’t think we’re the favourites, but I’m not going to say that we’re not the favourites either. We know it’s going to be a tight game. It’s going to come down to a lucky moment or a refereeing call. We will have to take every opportunity we get.”

Garces is one of a procession of “Mr Bean” referees from France who are infuriating in their clumsy efforts, but he at least makes brave calls, as we saw in the Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and Wallabies earlier this year, won handsomely by the Australians.

Faf de Klerk during the Springboks training session at the Arcs Urayasu Park on.Monday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets
Faf de Klerk during the Springboks training session at the Arcs Urayasu Park on.Monday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

The winner of Saturday’s game will likely play Scotland in the quarter-finals, whilst the loser will probably encounter Ireland. So a lot is at stake.

“If we can pull this result through so early in the competition, we’re going to be in a good spot going forward. It is about getting our structures in place,” De Klerk said. “We will have different tactics against different teams. We’re not looking too far ahead to October and the playoffs. If we get there, we will have to adapt once more. For now we need to focus on the All Blacks.”

A big part of that focus will be on the kicking games of both teams given that rain is forecast in Yokohama for Saturday.

“We’re going to play a wet-weather type of game. We’re going to try and contest in the air. It’s going to come down to turnovers and who uses their opportunities best,” De Klerk said.

“The challenge for me is to put them under pressure. A lot of their play revolves around No 9 and 10, so if we can put that link under pressure we can force a few errors.

“We will have to figure out early on in the contest what their game is and how we need to adapt.”

@MikeGreenaway67

 

The Mercury

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