Coach Rassie Erasmus hopes the match-day 23 he selected for the Springboks’ World Cup opener will have enough firepower to overcome the All Blacks on Saturday.
Erasmus named an unchanged lineup from the one that beat World Cup hosts Japan in the final warm-up in Saitama earlier this month, and he believes continuity will aid the Boks’ cause when they come up against bitter rivals New Zealand.
‘We’ve found some consistency and some momentum in a number of ways this season and one of them is in selection,’ Erasmus explained.
‘We have 31 players in the squad, any of whom I would be happy to select – as well as standby players back home – but this is a lineup that has worked well as a starting combination and one with real momentum to come from the bench.
‘They have merged over the past 18 months as our game has developed and matured. We’re continuing to develop and new players are always pushing a claim, but we’ve prepared well and we’re looking forward to what will be another extremely close match.’
Commenting on the daunting task of facing the All Blacks first up at the World Cup, Erasmus said there is no clear-cut favourites heading into the clash because their previous results had been so close.
‘Our last three matches have ended in [a] stalemate, one win each and a draw, for an aggregate score of 82-82,’ Erasmus added.
‘You couldn’t say there is a favourite. I think we have a healthy respect for each other’s capabilities, but it will come down to a small moment to decide a big game in the end, I suppose.
‘Our job is to focus on executing our plan and our skills to the best of our ability and hope that that is enough to overcome a New Zealand team that will be doing exactly the same.’