South Africa boss Rassie Erasmus expects no drop in quality from his much-changed side when they take on Canada in the Rugby World Cup.
Erasmus has made 13 changes for Tuesday’s Pool B encounter in Kobe, with a victory likely to be enough to secure their place in the quarter-finals.
The Springboks are level on points with Italy, though the Azzurri have to play reigning champions New Zealand in their final pool outing.
But despite only Damian de Allende and captain Siya Kolisi retaining their places, Erasmus is anticipating his fringe players will step up in a bid to secure a place in the quarter-final team should South Africa progress.
“The team’s make-up is a bit different, but we expect the same intensity,” Erasmus said.
“It doesn’t help if we get a good score but we don’t really improve in all the areas.
“And one of the areas which will be vital going into the knockout stages is intensity and big moments, and the intensity at which quarter-final and semi-final rugby is being played.
“If this team doesn’t at least match that or step up, they will struggle to stay in team selection and make the team. They know that, and that will be one of the challenges.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 6, 2019
South Africa were defeated by New Zealand in their opening fixture but bounced back with comprehensive victories over Namibia and Italy.
Erasmus paid tribute to the tier-two nations, believing World Rugby’s work to develop the lower-ranked countries has paid dividends in Japan.
“Credit to World Rugby, if you just look at Namibia, Canada, Japan, they were walkovers,” he added.
“But if you look at the phases Canada produced against Italy, and how they botched a few tries – they could’ve scored four or five really good tries.
“Overall, what World Rugby put into the tier-two nations is really great, and we’ve put a lot of time into Canada because if you take your eye off them, there might be one or two little errors and they get a sniff.
“They are tough and physical – we know the type of sports they are used to. They are physical men and will give themselves a chance.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 6, 2019
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Africa – Siya Kolisi
Erasmus believes his captain is back to his best and, after the 28-year-old impressed against Italy, Kolisi will be eager to maintain his form by taking the Canada match by the scruff of the neck.
Canada – Andrew Coe
Coe is the only Canada player to score a try in Japan, having crossed after coming on as a replacement in the 48-7 defeat to Italy. The full-back has now been handed a chance to impress from the start in Canada’s penultimate appearance.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the third meeting between South Africa and Canada in Test rugby, the Springboks won the previous clashes (20-0 in 1995 and 51-18 in 2000).
– South Africa have won 18 of their 19 Rugby World Cup matches against tier-two opposition. Their only defeat came against Japan in 2015.
– Canada’s 63-0 defeat to New Zealand was only the second time they have been kept scoreless in a World Cup match. The previous occasion came against South Africa in 1995.
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