Saturday 19 October 2019

'I know the Irish so well. I will be nervous if we play them' - Rassie Erasmus turns attention to quarter-final

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rassie Erasmus has admitted that he would be 'nervous' if his South Africa side come up against Ireland in a World Cup quarter-final.

The Springboks booked their place in the last eight with a thumping 66-7 victory over Canada today and they can now turn their full attention to what lies ahead.

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The reality is however, the 'Boks will have been prepping for the quarter-final since they were beaten by the All Blacks in the their opening game, such was the straightforward nature of their pool.

With Felix Jones now part of their coaching staff, South Africa will have plenty of inside knowledge on Ireland and that's not to mention Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber, who were both also recently involved with Munster.

Should Ireland pick up a bonus point win against Samoa on Saturday, they will join the 'Boks in the knockout stages, but Japan's result against Scotland on Sunday will decide who their opponents will be.

If Japan finish top of Pool A, then Ireland are likely to meet the All Blacks, but if the hosts slip up, or the less likely scenario occurs of New Zealand doing the same against Italy in their final pool clash, then Ireland would face South Africa.

"I know the Irish so well, and they are so professional," Erasmus said after watching his side hammer the hapless Canadians.

"They have been under pressure, and they handle it well. Joe (Schmidt) is an excellent coach, and I know the players well. They will be a big threat, and I will be nervous if we play them."

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As regards to their other possible quarter-final opponents, Erasmus continued:

"Japan is a much bigger threat than people think they are. They smashed teams like Fiji in the Pacific Cup, and they beat Ireland the other day. They have massive support, so if you have to pick between those two, I’m not quite sure who would be the easier bet.

"Scotland can still sneak in there. Now with the typhoon that might hit there this weekend, that will make it even more interesting."

The South Africa players will be given the next two days off to recover before returning to training on Friday.

Erasmus' men will have a much longer lead in to that last eight clash regardless of who they face, which could be crucial.

"We are going to tackle the week a little bit differently," Erasmus explained.

"We are going to give the guys Wednesday and Thursday off and we’ll (coaches) do some proper analysis on all the possible quarter-final opponents.

"And then we’ll watch those games as a group and have the excitement of seeing if they’re doing what we analysed them as doing.

"We’ll make a little bit of an event of it and have a good time while we do that, and then on Monday we’ll get back on the horse and get focused on our quarter-final opponents."

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