Rugby World Cup: Boks know importance of strong start against All Blacks in final

Rugby World Cup: Boks know importance of strong start against All Blacks in final

The Springboks know how important it is not to allow the All Blacks to get off to a fast start in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks had to work very hard to beat England (16-15) and France (29-28) in two gripping playoff matches to book their place in the final, where they will attempt to defend the title they won in Japan in 2019.

With the All Blacks having proven their ability to break out of the blocks quickly, Springbok assistant coach Daan Human said the Boks would have to work on combating that if they were to become the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup four times and claim back-to-back titles away from home.

"A good start is always a good thing, but it's important to finish well too," said Human.

"Rugby matches are won in 80 minutes, but we know the All Blacks like a fast start, and we'll work on that. In our first game against them this year they built up a 17-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, and we managed to change things in the second match (at Twickenham), but we are now six or seven games down the line, and they've improved a lot since then."

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The former Springbok prop said the team were well aware of the threats the All Blacks pose.

"They are good in all departments, and they are better in the scrums as well," said Human. "They are well prepared, they have a great forward pack, and they'll certainly try to use it to their advantage and dominate there, so it will be a tough battle."

Despite their biggest match in four years lying ahead in six days, Human said the team were in good spirits.

"There's a great vibe in the team and everyone is excited," said Human. "There are also a lot of families around, which makes the players more excited. We are all very pleased to be in the final and there is a lot of energy in the group."

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Human was not concerned about the wet conditions in Paris, which could again play a role in the final on Saturday.

"Training went well today in the rain; the big guys enjoyed it especially, and there was a lot of energy. The circumstances will be the same for both teams on Saturday, so the conditions don't really matter."

Asked if they had tweaked their training programme this week after a physically taxing RWC campaign, Human said it was business as usual for the team.

"We'll follow our normal rugby programme as always," said Human. "We have a six-day turnaround and our matches against France and England were tough, so we know what we are in for, and we'll prepare as normal."

With scrums being his speciality, Human said that while he was pleased with the way the Bok scrum had grown, there was still room for improvement ahead of Saturday's grand finale.

"We've worked hard on our scrums in the last four years and it's one of the big rocks in our game, similarly to the lineouts and our kicking game among other things, so we'll maximise on it as much as we can," said Human.

"We always strive to be better, and I still feel we are not where we want to be even though we only have one match left to try to reach that level."

The Springboks will return to the training field on Tuesday, while Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber will name his matchday squad to face the All Blacks on Thursday.

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