Rassie prepared for anything as Italy‚ Japan or Scotland loom for Boks
The Springboks’ 66-7 rout over Canada effectively ensured their passage to the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup (RWC)‚ barring a result as unlikely as Vesuvius’s imminent eruption in Italy’s last match.
The Italians will need to beat New Zealand by well over 100 points in their final pool B match to dramatically alter the course of events so the Boks can start plotting for their quarterfinal‚ not that‚ that picture is entirely clear.
They will most likely play Japan‚ but they may well end up playing Ireland. Scotland however‚ arn’t entirely out of the mix in pool A so Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is planning for all eventualities.
He has good reason to.
“I remember clearly in 2011 we prepared to play one specific team‚” said Erasmus about his role in the coaching team of Peter de Villiers at the RWC in New Zealand. “We prepared for Ireland but we got Australia in the quarterfinals.
“We won’t make that same mistake again. We will prepare for all three teams. The nice thing is we actually played Japan recently. We will do a lot of work in the next couple of days‚” he said about what awaits the coaching staff.
Erasmus then gave a glimpse of what the Boks might expect from the two teams most likely to emerge from that group.
“If you look at Japan‚ they bring a different game‚ Ireland bring a different game. The one is aerial‚ the one is about phases. The one is fast and open‚ the other is about forward domination. It can be Scotland too.”
He was then asked who he would prefer to play. “If I say one thing I’ll be in trouble‚ if I say another I’ll be in trouble.
“I know the Ireland players so well. They are good under pressure. I’ve seen them perform well in the Six Nations when nobody gave them a chance.
“Joe [Schmidt] is an excellent coach. I know the players‚ some stayed on my street in Limerick.
“They are a big threat. I’ll be nervous to play them‚” he admitted.
He was quick to explain the threat that Japan pose.
“A few weeks ago I said Japan will be a bigger threat than people say. If you look at how they played in the Pacific Cup‚ they smashed teams like Fiji.
“They beat teams like the USA comfortably. They beat Ireland comfortably the other day.
“They are well coached and they play well under these conditions and they have massive support. If you have to pick between those two I’m not sure what will be the easier game.
“Then again‚ Scotland could still sneak in. There is also a typhoon here this weekend‚ which can make things interesting.
“We will enjoy the next two days off and watch game with a lot of interest. We’ll buckle up and prepare as well as we can.
“We’ll get back on the horse on Friday. We will do our analysis and share it with the players‚” said Erasmus.