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BOKS READY FOR NZ AND HAKA IN RWC FINAL

The Springboks are bracing themselves for an epic Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday evening and said they are ready for the encounter – and the haka – in what will be their biggest match since the Rugby World Cup final in Japan in 2019.

The scene has been set for a colossal battle between two of rugby’s greatest rivals and the two best teams in the world according to the current world rankings (the Springboks are in first place and New Zealand second) in what will mark their third match-up this year.

The All Blacks won the first outing between the sides 35-20 in Auckland in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, with the Boks winning the second match 35-7 in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham in August, which is expected to spice up this match even more.

Springbok locks Marvin Orie and Jean Kleyn were well aware of the challenge ahead and said they were ready to front up.

“I think everyone in the world knows New Zealand are famous for their courageous and skilful play,” said Orie.

“In Auckland they started that match with intensity, and we took the learnings from that match going into the game in London, and fortunately it went in our favour.

“We are hoping for the same this weekend, but this is a Rugby World Cup final, and we know it will be a tight game.”

With the haka being a vital element on matchday between the arch-rivals, Kleyn said it was nothing new to the team, and that they were ready to face it as they usually do.

“It’s a fantastic tradition, and for us it’s part of playing a match against the All Blacks,” said Kleyn.

“The match we played against them at Twickenham was the first time I faced the haka. It was a great experience and we honoured it as a team. On Saturday we’ll line up against it as we always do and focus on the game.”

When quizzed about the importance of a strong start to the match given New Zealand’s emphasis on starting their matches with a bang, Orie said the Boks knew what they had to do on Saturday as they attempt to register back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories and become the first team to win four titles.

“As the coaches always say, it’s hard to ensure a fast start because the ball can bounce funny at times, but what we can control is to start with good intensity and to prepare well in the week,” said Orie.

“We’ve been doing a lot of analysis on New Zealand, and that included our Rugby Championship match and the game at Twickenham, so hopefully that will assist us in ensuring that we can start with intensity this weekend.”

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will announce his matchday squad on Thursday, and while only 23 of the 33 players in the wider squad will be selected, Orie said the Springbok team’s mindset that every player had a vital role to play in steering the team to success made this group particularly special.

“Rugby, at its core, is a team sport,” said Orie.

“There are 33 players in the World Cup squad and for us it’s important that everyone contributes – not only in case there are injuries, but also to prepare entire team as well as possible for every match.

“So much analysis goes into the opposition these days and over and above that, we try to prepare one another for exactly what the opposition will bring on the field. I feel it’s incredibly important for a team to operate like that, and hopefully the franchises will use the same model in future.”

On a personal note, Kleyn – who was a member of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad in 2019 – said being with the Springboks was truly special, and he relished every minute of the experience and opportunity to be in the group.

“If you had asked me six months ago if there was any chance that I could play for the Springboks in the World Cup final, I would have thought you are insane,” said Kleyn.

“It was outside my realm of thinking. It’s brilliant being part of this squad. It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever been involved in, and they are passionate about the game and South Africa.”

The Rugby World Cup final kicks off at 21h00 on Saturday and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

SOURCED FROM THE RUGBY SA WEBSITE.

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