South Africa

England will pitch up … but so will we, says Boks’ Stick

Mzwandile Stick 1

The Springboks are primed and ready for a tough challenge against England in their Rugby World Cup semifinal match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night, according to assistant coach Mzwandile Stick.

The Boks are favourites heading into the game, with them in good form, ranked number one in the world and having beaten England comfortably in their last encounter at Twickenham last year.

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But despite everything pointing towards what should be an easy win, Stick claims that the team is prepared for a tight match and that previous form can’t be counted on, as seen by how England upset the All Blacks in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

‘Can never underestimate anyone’

“As a team they are getting the results they are looking for. Going into the play-offs, especially semi-finals, you can never underestimate anyone. We know it is going to be tough and we know for sure England will pitch up,” explained Stick.

“We have seen what they have done in the past, against the All Blacks in Japan. That was one of the most physical games I have ever seen from an English side and I expect the same against us.

“As a team we are well prepared and if you look at our side, the game we played against France was one of the toughest games to be involved in.

“England will pitch up and we will make sure we pitch up. The team that converts their opportunities into points will stand a good chance to win the game so it’s going to be a tough one.”

Edged France

Having edged France 29-28 in a mammoth quarterfinal clash less than a week ago, the Boks will hopefully have gotten some good rest and refreshed themselves for the next challenge.

They named an unchanged match 23 from the one that did the business against the tournament hosts and they will hope that continuity will help them against England, with Stick highlighting the history between the two sides as another big motivating factor.

“I know one thing for sure, they’re going to be up for this because of the history between the two sides. We are not going to disappoint. But like I said, England at the moment, they’re in a good space,” said Stick.

“In the quarterfinal against France, if you look at both sides, when France got an opportunity early in the game to convert it into points, they really put us under pressure. So, I think it was a good game for us in terms of the way we stayed in the fight.

“I think it’s going to be the same against England. Whoever is going to pitch up and execute their plan very well, and also play the conditions very well, will stand a chance to win. To win the World Cup you are going to have to go through tough times. We have been there before.”