Rassie Erasmus knows the Springboks will face a much improved England team in the Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

TOKYO – What will be a 63-day odyssey through Japan for the Springboks entered its concluding phase on Monday when the team moved base for one last time, returning to the Tokyo Bay hotel – the team’s home for the opening pool game five weeks ago.

The players will begin preparations for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against England (kick off 11h00 SA time) on Tuesday – coincidentally at the same training venue that England used to prepare for their semifinal against New Zealand.

South Africa will have one day fewer to prepare than England, squeezing in two field sessions and a captain’s run either side of a recovery day on Thursday.

The coaching team had already turned their planning thoughts to England shortly after the final whistle in the 19-16 victory over Wales.

“We’ve played England four times in the last 18 months and it’s two-all, with three tests in South Africa and the last one at Twickenham, so we are accustomed to the way they play,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.

Video: Kim Kay/African News Agency

“They are obviously a lot better than the last time we played them. You could see it in the way they dismantled New Zealand. But we think we are in with a chance.”

The final is a repeat of the 2007 version when John Smit’s team overcame surprise finalists England, 15-6, in a game dominated by the struggle for territory and kicks at goal in France. 

African News Agency (ANA)