Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe says he is looking forward to facing Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima and Kenki Fukuoka in the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Matsushima and Fukuoka have both been in excellent form throughout the competition. The wing duo have scored nine tries between them, with Matsushima tied top of the tournament’s try-scorers list with five in four games.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph referred to his wings as ‘Ferraris’ and this was echoed by Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick when he talked up the Japanese attack this week.
Kolbe, however, will be very familiar with the threat posed by the duo, having faced Fukuoka in the 2016 Olympics with the Blitzboks and Matsushima in the 2012 Currie Cup, when the latter was still playing for the Sharks.
‘Kenki is a very good player,’ Kolbe said. ‘He is very powerful and explosive. I played against him at the Olympics and, as I said, he is a very good all-round player. Funnily enough, I played against Matsushima in 2012 in the Currie Cup. I know what type of player he is. I know he loves to run with the ball and get a bit of freedom.’
Back to full fitness after an ankle injury, Kolbe added that the Springboks are going to have to be wary of giving Japan space on the outside to free up the likes of Matsushima and Fukuoka.
‘Japan are playing an exciting brand of rugby. They are giving the ball a lot of air and they want to stretch your defensive structures. That is definitely the style I like to play as well. But we have our own structures and brand that we want to implement each and every week. We just need to make sure we cut their options at stages.
‘What happens on Sunday, it is going to be the team that wants it the most and is willing to leave everything out on that field. It is going to be an exciting challenge and I am definitely looking forward to that. It is about scoring tries. It is not about me, honestly. But if there is an opportunity to cross the line, I need to make sure I capitalise on that because I know there has been a lot of hard work, especially with our forwards and other backline players creating those opportunities for us as wings.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 16, 2019
Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images