Pollard and Am Springboks

Lukhanyo Am and Handre Pollard. Photo: BackpagePix

Springboks: Moodie, Am, Kleyn set to face England?

The Springboks are set to bring in some fresh faces for Saturday’s semi-final, which could see the return of Lukhanyo Am and Canan Moodie.

Pollard and Am Springboks

Lukhanyo Am and Handre Pollard. Photo: BackpagePix

Appearing at a press conference this week, SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said the Springboks are expecting an epic encounter against England in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final at the Stade de France in Paris. Kick off is at 21:00.

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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will announce his matchday squad for the clash on Thursday morning at 09h00 (SA time), and Erasmus gave some clear hints about the fact that they were giving real consideration to bringing in some new players to keep everyone fresh.

“There is a temptation to bring Lukhanyo (Am) in this week and start Handre (Pollard) and Faf (de Klerk), as well as Canan (Moodie), and we are also thinking of a six-two split on the bench,” said Erasmus.

“Every player in our squad is fit so we have all 33 players to select from. We would also like to see what they do. If they go for a six-two split, then we’ll have to make some plans.

“We can also bring in a guy like Jean Kleyn who will bring some physicality against their tall lineout options. That’s probably the reason we are only announcing our team two days before the match.”

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Springboks play down favourites tag

Erasmus poured cold water over the idea that the Springboks are the favourites, saying England would have all the motivation they needed this weekend, considering their 32-12 defeat in the 2019 RWC final in Japan, and defeat in the last match between the two sides at Twickenham in 2022, where the Springboks emerged 27-13 victors.

“They are unbeaten (at the RWC), they’ve stuck to their guns since Borthwick was appointed, and they are a team that believe in what they are doing,” said Erasmus.

“They will still be hurting from last year and the 2019 World Cup final, so they’ll be desperate. It always hurts when you lose in a Rugby World Cup, and I guess England would feel like that, and they’d want to get one back on us. They are playing for their country, and they’ll want to make their people proud.

“So yes, I believe they’ll have beef with us after last year and the last World Cup final. They will be very physical and step up in the set phases, and you never know what their players will dish up, especially (Owen) Farrell and their new scrumhalf (Alex Mitchell), who really lights things up. So, they have threats all over the park.”

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