The Springboks in mid-training ahead of the World Cup in Japan. Picture:Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images
The Springboks in mid-training ahead of the World Cup in Japan. Picture:Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Kobe — Almost as hurriedly destructive as the typhoons that afflict these parts‚ hosts Japan have become the team that has grabbed everybody’s attention at the Rugby World Cup (RWC).

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick has also taken note of the host team’s electrifying performances in pool A‚ but he has not spent time to look at them with an analytical eye.

“So far our focus has been the games we play in the group stages‚” said Stick, when asked about the high energy and intensity game that has helped Japan to three wins from three starts, including over Ireland and more recently Samoa.

“There are a number of things they do well. They play at a high tempo‚ they play with width‚ they gang tackle with gusto‚ while their dexterous handling of the greasy ball has been sublime.”

Though Japan are top dogs in their pool‚ Stick has a soft spot for the underdog.

“It is good to see a country like Japan [doing well] as the host nation. You can feel the vibe around Japan. Everyone’s excited about the game. It is good to see the country united behind their team.

“They have shown that if you don’t pitch up on the day you are going to get hurt‚ you are going to get punished. I’m happy to see Japan where they are currently. They are a very dangerous side.”

They have not commanded his full application just yet but they will grab his attention should Japan top their pool and the Springboks finish runners-up in theirs.

“We will only think about them once we get to that stage. We have a 10-day turn around after our next game so we have enough time to make sure that we get prepared for whoever we have to play in the quarterfinals.”

First though‚ SA needs to get past Canada‚ who they face in a pool B match here on Tuesday.

Victory will cement their place in the quarterfinals‚ while defeat will be too ghastly to contemplate.


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