Mzwandile Stick believes the Boks have selected their best 23 to counter the X-factor of the All Blacks, as Faf de Klerk contemplates Saturday’s World Cup final being his last.
South Africa and New Zealand clash at the Stade de France to renew a rivalry unparalleled in the world of rugby union, with the winner claiming bragging rights as well as the honour being crowned unprecedented four-time world champions.
Speaking in a Springbok conference on Friday, Stick expressed confidence in their selections, which includes a 7-1 split on the bench, and emphasised the need for “fresh forwards” in the game.
“We’ve had to pick the best possible 23 to perform against New Zealand, because they’ve got some very special players,” the Bok assistant coach told reporters.
“They have a lot of X-factor players and they’re going to keep the ball in play, so to have seven fresh forwards coming into the game, that was one of our key focus points.
“We’ve done it before and it worked, and, in the Ireland game, we performed well, but we didn’t convert our chances.
“We know the ball-in-play challenge we’re going to face from the All Blacks.”
A 2019 World Cup winner, De Klerk is aware of the rising competition from scrumhalves Grant Williams and Jaden Hendrikse.
The 32-year-old acknowledged the magnitude of the occasion, but he remained focused on giving his all in what might be his final appearance on the grand stage.
“We have guys playing in their final games and they [All Blacks] have guys also doing the same, so there’s a lot that’s special about this game,” De Klerk said.
“We’re both going for the same thing, which makes it that much more special and exciting, but [skipper] Siya Kolisi is right when he said you don’t dream this far.
“We’re here now and I feel extremely privileged and blessed to be here. I’ll give everything that I can and, if it’s my last game, I want it to be remembered for me giving everything.”