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Kolbe fit for final but Rassie Erasmus insists Springboks won't change tactics

The South Africans have been criticised in many quarters for their kick-heavy approach.

SOUTH AFRICA HAVE been handed a major boost ahead of Saturday’s World Cup final against England, with star wing Cheslin Kolbe making a return to full training.

The Toulouse wing missed last weekend’s semi-final win over Wales due to an ankle injury but head coach Rassie Erasmus said Kolbe is in line to make his return versus the English in this weekend’s decider at International Stadium Yokohama.

“We are lucky enough to have a full squad of 31 players available and they are ready to train today,” said Erasmus.

south-africa-v-italy-pool-b-2019-rugby-world-cup-shizuoka-stadium-ecopa Cheslin Kolbe will be back for the Boks on Saturday. Source: Adam Davy

The South Africans have been criticised in some quarters for their kick-heavy tactics against Wales, as they showed very little ambition to pass the ball into wide channels.

Speaking at their team hotel in Tokyo Bay today, Erasmus defended the Springboks’ tactical approach, pointing out that he has only been in charge since December 2017.

“If one understands where we have come from – we have been number six, seven and eight in the world – we have got certain challenges and one of them was to redeem ourselves and become a power again in world rugby and try and get to number one and two,” said Erasmus.

“By doing that you have to have some building blocks in place and we have followed a certain route and play according to the stats and the way the game is being refereed currently and what gives you short-term good results on the scoreboard.

“We certainly accept that there are some things in our game that we have to improve and we take it on the chin and we will keep on improving that. But we have put ourselves in a position to maybe win the World Cup and we are in the final.

“Yes, we accept the criticism but we are also happy we are in a position to compete in a World Cup final which is ultimately where we want to be.”

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rassie-erasmus Erasmus insists the Boks won't be changing their approach. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

While Kolbe’s return could add some individual spark to the Boks’ attack, Erasmus insisted that his team will not be changing the game plan that has seen them beat Japan and Wales in the knock-out stages so far.

“We have 160 minutes of training, 60 minutes of team training and 40 or 60 minutes of split training when we split into forwards and backs, so you have two days of training sessions so not a lot will change.

“You can expect very much the same from us on Saturday.”

Asked if he was bluffing in a bid to trick England with some tactics he has saved for the final, Erasmus underlined that the Boks will be using the same approach.

“No, I’m not bluffing,” said Erasmus. “It’ll probably be exactly the same 23, with Cheslin Kolbe being one of the guys that will probably come into the matchday 23.

“There’s not a lot we can change in those two training sessions. If it was a seven or eight-day turnaround, probably we would change a few things, there might be one or two starter moves or something like that, but there’s not a hell of a lot in your tactics than you can change in six days.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports

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