Vincent Koch says the Boks have been preparing as though they would play in the World Cup quarter-finals, despite having to wait on the Ireland-versus-Scotland clash.
The Irish face the Scottish in the Pool B decider in Paris on Saturday night, and the only permutation that could see the Springboks being knocked out of the competition is if both teams earn try-scoring bonus points with the Scots winning by a margin of 21 points or more.
With both teams ranked in the top five in the world, Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber and his charges have been realistic in their view about making it through, and have ensured that they continue with their training programme should the cards fall in their favour.
Speaking in a Bok conference on Friday, tighthead prop Koch was asked if the South Africans were frustrated about being in World Cup limbo this past week: “No, we’re not tense.
“We did everything we could to be in a position to play in the quarter-final, so now we have to wait and see.
“In the last few days, we prepared as though we will play in the quarter-final. We have to wait until tonight to find out if we make it, but regardless of that, preparing for the match was our main focus.”
With the Boks set to face France in the last eight if Ireland progress to the knockout stages following the hosts’ 60-7 win against Italy on Friday , Koch said the world champions were hard at work at training between Wednesday and Friday to ensure that they cover all their bases, and are ready to step up their game if and when needed.
“We zoomed into our game this past week and the coaches came up with plans on where we can improve so that we are at the level we need to be for the quarter-final and to be in a position to play our best rugby, and the players bought into it, so it was a good training week.”
Koch earned his first start since the 2019 World Cup in the Boks’ 49-18 victory against Tonga last week, after being forced to withdraw from the match-day 23 to face Romania in Bordeaux due to a knee niggle picked up during the warm-up – an opportunity he was delighted about on a personal note.
“It was very disappointing to have to withdraw from the match against Romania, but coach Rassie [Erasmus] and I made the call together,” said Koch.
“Playing against Tonga, however, was a massive honour, and it’s great that the coaches believe in me after all these years.”
Photo: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP