Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Compiled by Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Bring on ‘better’ France, say Boks ahead of quarter-final clash

The much-anticipated Rugby World Cup quarter-final takes place in Paris on Sunday.

The Springboks are gearing up for an almighty Rugby World Cup quarter-final against their hosts, France, in Paris on Sunday, with assistant coach Daan Human lavishing praise on Fabian Galthie’s side ahead of the clash.

The defending champions from 2019, the Boks, finished second in Pool B, while France, winners of Pool A, meet in one of four last-eight games this weekend.

The other quarter-finals will see England take on Fiji, Wales will entertain Argentina and Ireland will face New Zealand.

The last time the Boks and France met on the rugby field was in November in Marseille last year with Galthie’s side coming out 30-26 on top.

‘Believe in ourselves’

“Our objective was to qualify for the quarter-final, so we are very happy, and we are looking forward to this week,” said Bok scrum coach Human.

“France are better than last year, but so are we,” he added.

“If you train hard, you’ll naturally get better as a team. But, just as they believe in themselves, we believe in our players as well.

“They are strong in every department … that’s why they are the number two team in the world. They also won all four pool games and did very well against New Zealand, so there isn’t one area one can say they are particularly good at.”

The Boks, who have been based in Toulon for the pool stages of the tournament, will travel to Paris on Monday to kick off preparations for the match on Sunday, which kicks off at 9pm. The Boks enjoyed a bye this last week.

Selection decisions

With an injury-free squad to pick from, coach Jacques Nienaber has some tough choices to make regarding the side he will send in to battle against the French.

While his first choice match-23 appears to be fairly settled, there will be some debate about who between Jasper Wiese and Duane Vermeulen should start at No 8, while it will be interesting to see who is picked at flyhalf, Manie Libbok or Handre Pollard.

Also, will Lukhanyo Am, who only joined the Boks last week after being called into the squad as an injury replacement for Makazole Mapimpi, get a look-in at outside centre in place of Jesse Kriel?

The other major talking point will likely be about who the Boks pick on their replacements bench.

Will they go with the standard 5-3 split between forwards and backs or back the 6-2 “Bomb Squad” split they introduced at the 2019 World Cup? Or, could Nienaber and Co even go with the 7-1 split they opted for in the pool game against Ireland?

The Boks’ match-day-23 is expected be named on Wednesday evening.

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