CAPE TOWN – The mental contest could be the deciding factor when the Springboks take on the All Blacks in Yokohama in their World Cup opener.
Not like it isn’t always a factor in sport, but given how few points have separated these two teams recently, plus the extreme conditions Japan will present, it’s going to take more than just a physical effort to come out on top. Two or fewer points have separated the Springboks and All Blacks in the last four Tests, and from what we know, the Boks have certainly done the most to condition themselves for the heat and humidity that teams are going to face during the rugby spectacle.
They were the first team to arrive in Japan, while their final World Cup warm-up against the hosts last Friday - which they won 41-7 - should also have given them an ideal opportunity to experience Test-match rugby in those conditions. The slippery ball itself played a role in both sides’ handling, of course, while the Boks would have also felt the effects of the weather in Kumagaya in the second half.
The South Africans are based in Kagoshima this week, a decision Bok coach Rassie Erasmus made to best prepare his teams for what lies ahead.