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Fully fit Springboks need to tick all the boxes ahead of World Cup final against All Blacks

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A fully fit Springbok team will be raring to go against old foe’s New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final.

Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermeulen embrace after the Springboks beat England
The Springboks will be injury free for their Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Andrew Fosker/Shutterstock via BackPagePix

For many, the World Cup has a dream final between two three-time winners in the Springboks and the All Blacks, with the victors securing a record fourth title this Saturday.

New Zealand and South Africa have fought some epic battles over the decades, including the 1995 final in Johannesburg, and Bok assistant coach Deon Davids is expecting another colossal struggle.

“As kids, we grew up listening to the radio on the battles between the All Blacks and South Africa, listening to the stories of the heroes from both teams over the years,” Davids said.

“It has a big part of our rugby history, the Springboks and the All Blacks, and every time we play each other it is always a special battle and I don’t think this one will be different. I think it will maybe go to a different level in terms of the competition between the players because there is excellent talent in both teams.

“It is going to come how the teams handle the pressure, who executes the best, or maybe one brilliant moment from one individual who turns things around. We are very privileged and humble to make it so far, to be part of such a big week leading to the final.”

This year the Boks were disappointing in losing to the All Blacks in Auckland but a few weeks prior to the World Cup they handed the Kiwis a record defeat at Twickenham, but Davids says those games are irrelevant.

“Going into a World Cup final, I don’t think any of those previous encounters count. It is a totally new game, under new circumstances, playing for the World Cup,” he said.

“We will have to be on top of our plan and our execution this week because New Zealand have been playing excellent rugby throughout the competition. They are in a really good space, so we need to make sure we tick a lot of boxes in our preparation.”

The Boks have been in the most difficult pool at the World Cup and there is a worry that not much is left in the tank.

“At a World Cup you have to get on with the hand you have been dealt,” Davids said. “We have played against teams in excellent form. Last week it was France at home — I don’t think it gets bigger than that — and this week a formidable England team that pitched up and played very well. We really had to battle it out,” Davids said.

“But applause for our players for turning the match around. It is a testament to their character. I’ve been in these types of situations a couple of times, understanding how we operate as a squad, whether you start or whether you come off the bench, trying to adapt and making plans on the run. Hopefully, in the final, we won’t be in a similar situation.”

Davids says the way the Boks prepare mentally and physically this week is crucial after a long, tough tournament.

“Sunday has been a very good rest day and then we will start making plans for this week. It is important to take each day as it comes and to ensure that, from a preparation perspective, we know what we want to do and just not get ahead of ourselves,” Davids said.

“Nothing will change in terms of our approach. From a strategic point of view, we will look at maybe making different plans in different areas, but technically and conditioning-wise I don’t think anything will change this week and that is the way we will approach things.“

The Boks may be tiring, but the good news is that they are injury free. Davids says there were no casualties from their semi-final win against England on Saturday.

@MikeGreenaway67

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