Former Springboks captain, John Smit, says the Springboks mustn’t underestimate Tonga – and should prepare for a tough match.
The Springboks, who won their opening matches against Romania and Scotland, lock horns with Tonga on Sunday night, needing as many points as possible out of the game to secure a place in the playoffs.
The Boks will be coming from a loss against Ireland and will be wanting to win at all costs.
Smit says he did expect a tough match against Ireland and the Boks did their best to win.
“I always knew it was going to be tough. I didn’t think we would have enough to be able to get the victory… Its a very competitive game”.
Nienaber names team to face Tonga
On Wednesday, Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber named his side to take on Tonga and has made 12 changes to the starting team that went down to Ireland.
Fly-half Handre Pollard, back from injury and called up to the South Africa World Cup squad last week, will start for the Springboks in their final pool game in Marseille on Sunday.
It will be Pollard’s first Bok appearance since playing against Australia in Adelaide before injury forced him out of the subsequent 16 Tests.
Four years ago, Pollard scored 25 points across the quarter-final against Japan and the semi-final against Wales before scoring 22 as South Africa beat England 32-12 in the final of the World Cup.
The 29-year-old, who was initially ruled out of this tournament, returned to competitive action a week ago with his club Leicester and was then called up as a replacement for injured hooker Malcolm Marx.
He did not feature in Saturday’s 13-8 defeat by Ireland.
However, with South Africa’s two goalkickers Manie Libbok and scrum-half Faf de Klerk failing to get points from set pieces in that match, the calls for Pollard’s return to the team intensified.
Libbok missed three penalties against Scotland in the first match and also failed with a conversion and a penalty against Ireland on Saturday.
Speaking on the kicking, Smit says it is a big responsibility for fly halves, especially when it comes to kicking.
Meanwhile, forwards Siya Kolisi, who will make his 50th appearance as captain, Eben Etzebeth and Jasper Wiese are retained for the must-win clash that will be crucial in determining which two teams from Pool B advance to the quarter-finals, and who they will play in the top-eight playoffs.
South Africa (15-1)
Willie le Roux; Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Jasper Wiese, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi (capt); Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth; Vincent Koch, Deon Fourie, Ox Nche
Replacements: Marco van Staden, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Jesse Kriel, Manie Libbok
Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)
Willie le Roux on Tongan challenge: “Our defence will have to be up for it because they have players that can spark anything from anywhere” – more here: https://t.co/qUk6MDCfmS 🤯#Springboks #StrongerTogether #RWC2023 pic.twitter.com/ulSL0wuFzF
— Springboks (@Springboks) September 28, 2023
1⃣3⃣ players who featured against Ireland are back for the #Springboks‘ last pool game of #RWC2023, on Sunday against Tonga in Marseille – more here: https://t.co/29J2VALMLH 🏉#StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/1ztizr5wqx
— Springboks (@Springboks) September 27, 2023
Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris