The Springboks will play Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals – and Peter de Villiers reckons it will be easier and more familiar than playing the Samoans.
It is the clash of the last eight with the Tri Nations champions against the defending World Champions.
Ireland, in emphatically beating Italy 36-6 in Dunedin, ensured a quarter-final against Wales in Wellington next Saturday with the Boks to play the Wallabies a day later in New Zealand’s capital.
Hosts the All Blacks will play Argentina in the late Sunday kick-off at Eden Park in Auckland and England clashes with France on Saturday at Eden Park.
The winner of the Boks match will play the All Blacks with the other semi-final an all Northern Hemisphere affair.
(Bok coach) De Villiers told the South African media website SuperSport he welcomed playing the Australians, added the Boks would have the advantage at scrum time and that he felt it would be easier playing the Aussies than it was against the unfamiliar Samoans.
De Villiers said he expected the Australians to try and match Samoans for physicality and didn’t believe either Australia or New Zealand could do that to the Boks. He also backed the improved Bok defence to counter Australia’s attacking threat.
Australia has won five of the last six Tests between the two countries, with two of the wins in South Africa. The Wallabies have also scored four-tries or more in four of the six matches.
De Villiers was unconcerned by this statistic and said that while the Aussies could also believe it to be easier because of the familiarity he felt the Boks were playing outstanding rugby at the World Cup and peaking at the right time.
The New Zealand media generally have backed the Boks to beat the Wallabies, but among former Australian players and within the media the feeling is the Australians will be too smart for the Boks and that David Pocock’s return will neutralise the Boks, as he has done successfully on most occasions in the last two seasons.
Former Australian World Cup-winning captain Nick Farr-Jones, in the Herald on Sunday, wrote the Boks looked like a champion at the end of the road and that the last 30 minutes showed the vulnerability of an aged giant. He commended the Boks’ fighting qualities and scrambling defence, but said too many key players were no longer the players who stood tallest in Paris in 2007.
Former All Blacks World Cup-winning prop Richard Loe, in the same paper, disagreed, saying the Boks would have too much muscle for the Tri Nations champions.
Quarter-finals (NZ kick-off times – 11 hours ahead of SA)
QF1: Ireland v Wales at Welllington Regional Stadium on Saturday, October 8, kick-off 6pm.
QF2: England v France at Eden Park on Saturday, October 8, kick-off 8.30pm.
QF3: South Africa v Australia at Wellington Regional Stadium on Sunday, October 9, kick-off 6pm.
QF4: New Zealand v Argentina at Eden Park on Sunday, October 9, kick-off 8.30pm.