Match Preview: South Africa vs Canada
"That is exactly why Rassie is the coach and I am the armchair critic, sitting at home with a lovely wood fire going and a bitterly cold Lemonlicious in my hand watching The Boks play."
I almost got it right in my prediction in one of my last columns as I suggested that Rassie selects his best team for some more game time and fine tuning for the Canada game, get the job done and then bring on the whole bench in the last 25 minutes. He just did it the other way around and I have no doubt that the result and a comfortable win for the Boks will be the same outcome.
At the start of the Rugby World Cup and when Rassie selected his team, most supporters and fans agree on the make- up of the 31man squad bar one or 2 players who could count themselves really unlucky. The young and exciting Western Province flyhalf come fullback, Damian Willemse was one of those players.
Last week Jesse Kriel`s tournament came to an abrupt end with a hamstring injury. The team called up Damian, on loan to Saracens in England and Rassie wasted no time in selecting Damian at fullback and giving him a start against Canada. This will more than likely be his only start but what an opportunity for this talented youngster to play in a World Cup.
I am also super excited but not only about this game but the fact that I am on my way to Japan on Tuesday morning. I have never ever been to that side of the world and for someone who was hyper critical and cautiously nervous about a “non-traditional” rugby playing country hosting a Rugby World Cup, I firstly eat my words and secondly congratulate Japan on a tournament exceeding all expectations up to now.
The Boks will play again tomorrow after a quick 4 day turnaround and demolition job done on Italy albeit against 14 men for more than half hour. After Canada The Boks will have 11 days to recover and get everything and everyone 100% for whoever they will face come the quarter finals on the 19th October. They still don’t know who they will play in that game but that will all be revealed this week.
There are certain things as a rugby team and coach you have some sort of control over and you try to eliminate as many hick-ups and nasty surprises with the way you prepare in the build up to any game.
Right now I believe that The Boks must focus on Canada, get the job done, have a bit of fun along the way, give the whole bench a run and play with some freedom and expression-something you don’t always get in a test match and certainly not at a World Cup. After that the team can rest, forget about rugby for a few days, get some proper recovery and rest under the belt and then start their preparation for whoever awaits them in the quarters.
Prediction time again and I have no doubt that The Boks will win by about 45 points.