Faf de Klerk revealed that upbeat body language was a pivotal part of his role for the bench because self-doubt was setting in for the Springboks against England in the World Cup semi-final.
De Klerk was part of a phenomenal collective performance from South Africa’s replacements, which helped rescue the game from 15-6 behind.
South Africa will now face New Zealand on Saturday, with both nations bidding to become the first to four World Cup crowns. But the Springboks were indebted to the impact of their bench.
Having arrived in place of Cobus Reinach as early as the 43rd minute with England 12-6 up, De Klerk had been asked to instill belief that a comeback was possible. Owen Farrell extended the advantage with a drop goal from around 48 metres. However, the reigning champions would prevail.
“My role was to try and inject a bit of energy and body language into the side,” said De Klerk, who is bound for another showdown with Aaron Smith, the supreme All Blacks scrum-half.
“That’s never really lacking but tonight we maybe started doubting in our ability or [if] the plan is working. It was just to show: ‘We are actually in this [game]’. I think everyone who came off the bench had a massive impact in that. For me it was about game management with Handre.”
The Springboks are waiting on the outcome of an investigation into the alleged use of a racial slur by South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi towards England’s Tom Curry.
Mbonambi is the only specialist hooker in the Springboks squad and losing him to a potential suspension would be hugely damaging to South Africa’s chances of beating New Zealand.
How have South Africa fared so far?
The Springboks got their title defence off to a winning start, beating Scotland 18-3 in Marseille in the pool stages. And they followed that up by crushing Romania 76-0 in their second group game, with scrum-half Cobus Reinach scoring a hat-trick inside 25 minutes – the second-quickest in World Cup history.
This impressive start hit a speed bump as they were defeated 13-8 by Ireland in a ferocious encounter. The Boks did, however, bounce back against Tonga in their final pool match with a 49-18 victory. This meant they finished second in their group (behind the Irish) and faced hosts France in the quarter-finals. That match was one of the greatest games of rugby ever witnessed. The result eventually went the way of South Africa – by a single point. Against England, they were locked in an arm wrestle and trailed for 78 minutes, but the goal-kicking of Handre Pollard saw the Springboks seize a breathless come-back victory – again by just one point.
When will the World Cup final be played?
Saturday, October 28: New Zealand v South Africa, Stade de France – 8pm.
Who is the referee?
Wayne Barnes is to take charge of the final. Barnes will be assisted by Karl Dickson and Matthew Carley on the touchline and Tom Foley as television match official. Luke Pearce will complete the line-up as the pitch-side official.
Barnes, 44, is appearing in his fifth consecutive World Cup campaign since his debut in 2007.
What television channel is showing South Africa’s matches?
ITV have exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK with ITV1 showing the final. The radio commentary of every match is available on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service.
In South Africa, the tournament is being broadcast on SuperSport.
Who is in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad?
Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx*, Eben Etzebeth, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.
Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Makazole Mapimpi*, Handre Pollard**, Lukhanyo Am**.
*Ruled out due to injury, **Called up as injury replacement
Best of the latest odds
- New Zealand: 4/5
- South Africa: 6/5
- Draw: 18/1
Odds correct as of October 24.
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