Rassie: Boks are in with a shout


The Citizen (Gauteng) - - FRONT PAGE - Ru­dolph Ja­cobs

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.

Pic­ture: Getty Images

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.

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