Time to get physical as Springboks lie in wait
● Goode warns England they face a formidable challenge
England head into the World Cup final in a “phenomenal position” but must brace themselves for a physical onslaught from the Springboks, according to former international fly-half Andy Goode.
The one-time Leicester, Saracens, Worcester and Wasps player believes Eddie Jones’s men can improve further on their impressive semi-final demolition of New Zealand but warns they face a completely different challenge from South Africa tomorrow.
“A World Cup final can do strange things,” said Goode. “England go into the game as favourites but you can’t underestimate this South Africa team who pose very different threats.
“They’re a big, powerful outfit who base their game on a big set-piece; big physical ball carriers really attacking that game line and trying to win the physical battle, but also a strong kicking game.
“For us, after the highs of beating the All Blacks last week and the intensity we played with there, it’s about trying to recreate that and go even better.
“England are in a phenomenal position, there’s huge confidence in this team now and it’s being put across by Eddie, who is the most confident man around.
“It’s great to hear him say there are things to improve on because we’ve only won a semi-final, we’ve not lifted the trophy.”
Meanwhile, Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland has been praised for leaving “a fantastic legacy” ahead of his farewell game.
Gatland’s 12-year reign will end in Tokyo today when Wales meet their World Cup bronze medal match opponents New Zealand.
Both teams are on the back of mentally crushing semi-final defeats, with Wales being edged out by South Africa and the All Blacks losing comprehensively to England.
But it will also be the final time in their respective jobs for Gatland and his New Zealand opposite number Steve Hansen.
And Wales’s degree of difficulty is underlined by the fact they have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 30 successive games.
Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said of Gatland: “He is an incredible man. He has left a fantastic legacy in terms of results and development of young players.
“He is a god, a god of the game as far as I am concerned.”
PREPARATIONS: England’s Ellis Genge breaks through during a training session at the Fuchu Assahi Football Park as the team limbers up to face the Springboks