Willie le Roux could live the dream in RWC final against the All Blacks

Willie le Roux could live the dream in RWC final against the All Blacks

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux is full of anticipation ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup Final against New Zealand.

Saturday's showdown at the Stade de France is the first time the two nations have met in the final since 1995, when hosts South Africa triumphed 15-12 after extra-time and then-President Nelson Mandela presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar.

The Springboks also lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2019 after beating England in the final on both occasions and edged past the same opposition in last week's semi-final to set up the mouthwatering clash with the All Blacks.

"I was six years old in 1995 and I can just remember my dad and mum screaming in the house and I couldn't understand exactly what was going on," Le Roux said.

"But to be able to have a chance to play in the final against them would be amazing.

"There's always respect [between the teams]. The rivalry goes back a long time. The games that have been played against each other, always it's hard-fought and after the game you can see the guys, they gave it their all.

"It's just a hard battle out there, there are no friends when you are on the field."

Le Roux's celebrations in front of England players when the final whistle blew in their semi-final sparked an unseemly scuffle, but the 34-year-old was keen to play down the incident on Wednesday.

"It was just emotion," he said. "I think I had the same emotion as everyone back home. I was excited.

"The margins in those big games are so small, I just jumped up out of emotion, of happiness as we™d just got through a World Cup semi-final.

"There was no disrespect to any of the English players. I think they thought there was and I immediately told them there wasn't and then it stopped. There was nothing, nothing about that."

Assistant coach Felix Jones also spoke to the media ahead of his last game with the Springboks as he prepares to join England™s coaching set-up under Steve Borthwick in 2024.

The final will also be head coach Jacques Nienaber's last game in charge before he takes over at Leinster, but Jones does not think that will have any effect on Saturday's game.

"Jacques is an incredible person, Jones said. "Unbelievable work ethic, I've never seen anything like it.

"This week has been the exact same as any other. Same process. I've learnt a huge amount about how to build my week as a coach, not for me but for the delivery by the team.

"I don't think emotion is coming into it too much. We are just hugely excited because of the game and there's plenty of players on both sides where it might be their last-ever game for South Africa or New Zealand.

"It might be their last ever game so the coaches are taking a bit of a back seat there and focusing on the players and making sure the team vibe or team atmosphere is correct."

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