Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan believes South Africa would be able to handle a high tempo match where the ball is in play for longer than usual when they face Japan in their Rugby World Cup opener in Brighton on Saturday.
Japan’s coach, Eddie Jones, has made no secret that the plan is to run the Boks off their feet with their fast-paced play.
Although the Springboks will face Japan for the first time ever, Van Graan felt the last four years’ Test matches have prepared the side for any type of opposition.
“Every game is different with a different character and we can’t predict how long the ball will be in play we’ve been fortunate over the last four years where we’ve played different Tests,” Van Graan said on Friday. “Last year against Australia the ball was in play for 46 minutes, so we’ve played a game like that before. We know it is going to be a set-piece battle, and the Japanese like to carry the ball like we do but we have a specific plan we want to execute.”
Meanwhile, Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis said the pitch at the Brighton Community Stadium would allow for and open and exciting match.
Du Plessis said the Springboks faced a strong Japanese scrum but would not be drawn on comments made by Jones where he hoped the burly prop would do less talking to the referee and more playing.
“He is a great and astute coach, nobody’s played a game yet I just want to do my best for South Africa regardless of what people say,” Du Plessis said.
“I want to contribute to a good team performance, Japan has a very good scrum, they get themselves into a good body position and they are a good unit.
“Their coach is doing a brilliant job, it is going to be a big challenge which is good, it is a World Cup, nothing should be easy at a World Cup and I am looking forward to it.”
The match kicks off at 17:45.
- Article by Ockert de Villiers (Sport24)