Rugby World Cup: Bongi Mbonambi promises Boks will 'pitch up' against England

Rugby World Cup: Bongi Mbonambi promises Boks will 'pitch up' against England

The Springboks know they must be on the ball both mentally and physically for Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final against England to avoid a potentially disastrous upset.

Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi shot down suggestions that they are the favourites going into the match and said anything could happen in playoff rugby.

"We never mentioned that they [England] are the underdogs, and we certainly don't see ourselves as the favourites - it's knockout rugby and anything can happen," said Mbonambi ahead of the semi-final showdown at the Stade de France in Paris.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said: "They are in a good space as a team and they are getting the results. We were impressed with their physicality against Fiji last week, and we feel they selected their best possible team.

"If you get to the semi-final you cannot underestimate any team. We know it will be a tough game and we'll pitch up, just as they will. But just like them, we are well prepared. I believe the team that uses their opportunities the best will come out on top."

While the Springboks showed true fighting spirit to defeat RWC hosts France 29-28 in the quarter-final last week, England defeated Fiji 30-24 to book their place in the semi-final.

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Asked to compare this team to the England team they faced in the 2019 RWC final, which the Springboks won 32-12 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, Stick said: "This is a totally different team. They may have started slowly under Steve Borthwick (England head coach), but they've made a lot of changes in the way they do things.

"They are similar to France in how much they kick, and they showed against Fiji they can be physical. If they turn on the right buttons, they can be tough on the day. They'll also be up for this challenge because of the history between the teams, so we'll make sure we pitch up.

"To win the Rugby World Cup you have to go through tough times, and to pull it through last week was special for us and it prepared us well for this match."

Experienced loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit expects a massive onslaught from the English, but declared they were ready for the challenge.

"They are a physical team and we've heard they want to take us on in the scrums and mauls," said Du Toit.

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"There are obviously a few factors that one has to take into account on the day, but we'll be prepared for that."

Both Du Toit and Mbonambi said they enjoyed the messages of support and scenes of South African supporters celebrating last week's victory against France.

"We are playing for our country, and we see all the support and take a lot of inspiration from that," said Du Toit.

"It's an honour and privilege to play for the Springboks and as players you never know when it will be your last game. This is a Rugby World Cup and some of us might not get this chance again, so as a team we'll give everything."

Mbonambi added: "The support from our fans has been fantastic, and for us it's all about pitching up on the day and representing our country."

The semi-final kicks off at 21h00.

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