South Africa coach Jake White retained just four players who started in the 36-0 defeat of titleholders England last Friday when he named his team for the World Cup Group A match against Tonga in Lens on Saturday. The 43-year-old has guided the Springboks to two impressive wins over Samoa (59-7) and England.
England head into Friday's crunch clash against South Africa with the key duty of goal-kicking set to be given to a man who has yet to score a Test match point in the union game. Andy Farrell was a prolific goal-kicker in rugby league but since his transfer from Wigan to Saracens in March 2005 has struck precious few kicks.
South Africa coach Jake White kept England guessing by delaying naming his team for their World Cup Pool A match at the Stade de France on Friday. White announced a 22-man squad on Tuesday and said he would reveal his starting team only 48 hours before kick-off as tournament rules allow.
Blue Bulls inside centre Wayne Julies will join the Springbok World Cup squad in France after Jean de Villiers tore a bicep muscle in the match against Samoa on Sunday. This was announced by the Blue Bulls on Monday, ending speculation that either Waylon Murray or Marius Joubert would be called up to bolster the Boks backline.
Australia beat England at the 1991 Rugby World Cup final, but in the South Stand at Twickenham lurked a couple of fellows who held up a banner emblazoned with this motto: "South Africa, the real World Champions". As it turned out, the blazers of the International Rugby Board had met during the second World Cup to debate the re-entry of the Springboks into the international fold.
In a perfect world the Springboks would be sunning themselves in the south of France, fine-tuning a few of the more cerebral moves cooked up by the coaching team and ingratiating themselves with the locals. After all, we are just one week away from the beginning of the Rugby World Cup 2007.