Rassie: Boks are in with a shout
BOK COACH: WE HAVE A CHANCE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE
South Africa’s next opponents will be decided at weekend.
South Africa have as good a chance as any team of progressing beyond next week’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes.
While the Boks booked their place in the play-offs with their 66-7 victory over a hopelessly outgunned Canada on Tuesday, they are awaiting the outcomes of this weekend’s last pool matches to determine their opposition in the last-eight.
“We are facing some stiff opposition, but I guess we have a chance like everyone else,” Erasmus said.
“There are so many good teams in this tournament but we are in with a shout.”
While Japan shocked Ireland with a 19-12 victory earlier in the tournament, the Irish earned a resounding 27-3 win over Scotland to keep themselves in the hunt in Pool A, and Erasmus believed any of those three teams would be formidable quarterfinal opponents.
“We already played Japan a few weeks back and they are really a class act, while Ireland are a class act and Scotland are a class act, so we have some tough opposition in the next couple of weeks.”
Having got the monkey off their backs by making it safely through the opening round, South Africa are set to make their seventh straight appearance in the playoffs since their debut at the 1995 showpiece.
They have scored 27 tries in their four pool matches in Japan, with one against New Zealand, nine against Namibia, seven against Italy and 10 against Canada.
They have also conceded only three tries, with two against New Zealand and one against Canada.
While he was relieved with their latest result, however, Erasmus felt there was a danger of creating too much hype around their big win over Canada.
“It was a short turnaround and a lot of the guys hadn’t played for a while, so it was scrappy at stages,” he said.
While the persistent humidity was expected to fall ahead of the play-offs, Erasmus believes it remains important for the Boks to enjoy a good start before the ball became too slippery.
“In these humid conditions you sometimes over-exaggerate your play,” he said.
Kobe – When Canadian star DTH van der Merwe glanced at the strapping on his left wrist during the World Cup match against his native South Africa on Tuesday, he was again inspired by the words “Captain Greene”.
Trevor Greene was almost killed by a 16-year-old boy who took an axe to his head as he and other Canadian soldiers talked to village elders in Afghanistan in 2006.
“As far as Captain Greene goes, we had him speaking to us before the 2011 World Cup,” Van der Merwe told reporters at the Kobe Misaki Stadium this week.
“He’s a Canadian rugby player who went to Afghanistan and had the tragic injury.
“So just some of the words he said prior to that World Cup, just the things he had to go through, the struggles in life, is just something that kind of hit home and we decided we would name our mascot ‘Captain Greene’.
“I wear my wife and three kids on (the strapping) my right hand and Captain Greene on the left, so when I need a bit of inspiration I just look down at that.”
Van der Merwe made a Canadian record 15th World Cup appearance against the Springboks on Tuesday and could become only the fifth player to have scored a try in four different World Cups if he scores against Namibia.
The 33-year-old wing, who grew up in Worcester, a hour’s drive north of Cape Town, emigrated with his family when he was a teenager.
CONFIDENT. Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus believes his team have just as good a chance as anyone to advance beyond the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup.