Rassie Erasmus and Deon Davids have cautioned the Springboks against writing off the threat posed by veteran Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton when the teams clash on Saturday.
The top-ranked Ireland will face the defending world champions at the Stade de France, in a world cup Pool B game that will be decisive for both teams’ quarter-final ambitions.
Sexton, who is also captain, became Ireland’s record points scorer as the playmaker scored 16 in their romp over Tonga last week.
The 38-year-old moved to 1 090, seven more than previous holder Ronan O’Gara, setting it in style with a try he converted in the first half before sitting out the second half ahead of the meeting with South Africa in Saint-Denis.
Speaking during a Bok conference on Monday, SA’s director of rugby Erasmus told reporters: “He is vital in my opinion. When I was at Munster, we beat them [Leinster, where Sexton plays] once.
“Whenever Johnny is in the team a lot of things happen, not just as a player, I think the aura around him and his presence.
“For a man at 38 to score tries like he did this weekend… As long as he is physically out there, there is no doubt about [his influence].
“The aura he has about him is exceptional, not just for his own team but very intimidating for us as the opposition.”
On the overall challenge posed by Ireland, forwards coach Davids added: “We are playing the No 1 in the world. You don’t get there if you don’t perform well.
“They are a very well-coached side, their overall game to their attack and defence. They have got some very experienced players which forms part of their make-up.
“It is going to be important to be on par, set-piece-wise and in attack. For us to play against the No 1 team in the world and aspiring to get through in the tournament, this is one of the games we understand you need to be at your best in all departments.”
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