Boks braced for ‘slippery’ Wales in World Cup semifinal



South Africa will need to be at their very best to overturn recent history against Wales in this weekend’s World Cup semifinal, scrum-half Faf de Klerk warned on Wednesday.

Warren Gatland’s side represent a clear and present danger to South Africa’s title hopes: the Welsh have beaten the two-time world champions in five of their previous six meetings, following years of dominance by the Springboks.

To avoid slipping on a potential banana peel, de Klerk promised the Boks would come out firing in Yokohama on Sunday after ending the fairytale run of hosts Japan with a 26-3 mauling of the tournament darlings last weekend.

“It’s definitely going to be a slippery one,” said the pint-sized scrum-half with the blonde locks. “But as a team we’re more in tune with how they want to play. Whoever you play in a World Cup semifinal, they’re going to pose threats — not just Wales. Any team could be a bogey team on the day. We’re just going to have to be up for it.”

De Klerk added: “It’s going to be a massive battle in the air. It’s going to come down to three or four moments.”

South Africa, who have failed to reach the World Cup final since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007, finished behind defending champions New Zealand in Pool B after losing 23-13 to the All Blacks in their opening game.

READ MORE: All Blacks coach Hansen says Springboks are NZ’s ‘biggest rival’

But assistant coach Mzwandile Stick insisted the Springboks were coming to the boil nicely after that early wake-up call.

“We were guilty in that New Zealand game of not converting our opportunities into points,” he said, promising a more clinical performance against Wales, who edged 14-man France 20-19 in their quarter-final.

“We’re expecting a tough battle against Wales, especially with their kicking game,” added Stick.

“Wales are a territory-driven team and always suffocate teams — they don’t allow them to come into their half. It’s going to be key for us that when we get our opportunities, we convert them.

“If you look at [Gareth[ Davies at nine and guys like [Liam] Williams and [Dan] Biggar — these are guys who’ve been around. They’ve got a lot of experience.”

But Stick tipped explosive wingers Makazole Mapimpi, who has bagged 13 tries in 12 Tests, including two against Japan, and Cheslin Kolbe (seven in 13) to terrorise the Welsh, noting: “Makazole has always been one of the best finishers in the game.”

But Kolbe, who has been playing on a sore ankle since South Africa’s third pool game, ultimately was not able to recover in time after he aggravated the injury against Japan. He has been replaced by Sbu Nkosi in the only change to the line-up.

With the winners set to face New Zealand or England in the final, Stick also weighed in on the “spy-gate” row that erupted when England coach Eddie Jones claimed team officials had spotted a hidden camera filming their training.

England assistant coach John Mitchell, a Kiwi and former New Zealand head coach, suggested the secret sleuths had been sent by the All Blacks.

“I find it stupid to do it,” said Stick. “You’re not only fooling yourself, or cheating the people around you. You’re cheating to the world.

“I don’t think we will ever do something like that,” he added. “It’s not part of what we stand for as South Africans.” — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Alastair Himmer
Guest Author

Related stories


Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

Disinformation harms health and democracy

Conspiracy theorists abuse emotive topics to suck the air out of legitimate debate and further their own sinister agendas

Uganda: ‘I have never seen this much tear-gas in an...

Counting was slow across Uganda as a result of the internet shutdown, which affected some of the biometric machines used to validate voter registrations.

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…