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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Boks have no preference between France and New Zealand, says Etzebeth

"We'll probably play France or New Zealand, and I am excited for either one of them."

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth says they don’t mind facing either the hosts France or New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup.

After Saturday’s 13-8 loss to Pool B rivals Ireland, the Boks’ chance of making it to the knockout stages took a bit of a knock. To give themselves a chance, they need to win their final pool game against Tonga next Sunday.

Although Ireland is primed to finish first after winning their three matches so far,  Pool B can still be turned on its head if Scotland win their three remaining games against Tonga, Romania and Ireland.

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Meanwhile, in Pool A, France look set to finish on top of the group with New Zealand following them. Italy also have a slight chance of making it out of Pool A as they have won their opening two matches, but they will face the All Blacks and France to conclude their group stage.

Whether the Boks finish as runners-up or winners of their pool, they will have a tough last-eight encounter against the Pool B sides.

“We have Tonga, we still have to win that game, and then France have obviously got Italy. So there are still a few games that need to happen, so we’ll probably play France or New Zealand. I am excited for either one of them,” said Etzebeth.

‘Like a playoff’

Reflecting on the Test against Ireland, the Bok enforcer picked up plenty of positives, saying the match challenged them in various aspects.

“It was a tough Test match. It was physical. That was like playing a playoff game. They have good running rugby, good at the breakdown and good basics,” he said.

The Springboks will now turn their attention to Tonga, who they face next weekend in Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome. The match is a must-win for the Boks and the management might put out a strong team to ensure they get the required bonus-point win to have their best chance of progressing to the knockouts.

“We have one more [pool] game left. We have Tonga, that is the main focus now and after that, the knockouts start so I’m looking forward to that,” Etzebeth said.

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