Rugby World Cup 2019: England primed for physical battle with Springboks

England loose forward Sam Underhill warns his teammates there will be no place to hide when faced with the brute force of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.

The way South Africa have approached most of their recent games follows a familiar pattern - a huge pack creating a safe space for halfback Faf de Klerk to deliver endless up-and-unders for his teammates to chase slowly.

Trying to counter-ruck to put the No.9 under pressure is a tactic England will use, though probably sparingly.

"I think decision-making is the most important thing around the breakdown," said Underhill

"That is probably the majority of the work we do as a back row, around the breakdown you can't go after everything. It's all very well being aggressive, but the key is to have control of that.

Rugby World Cup 2019: England primed for physical battle with Springboks

"Picking your moments, that's a big focus for us."

Underhill, his fellow flanker Tom Curry and lock Maro Itoje have been England's chief turnover weapons, bringing speed and athleticism to the breakdown markedly absence in previous years.

But the sheer size of the Springbok side, not to mention their 6-2 forwards/back split on the bench that ensures the big men keep on coming, means that shifting them is no easy task.

"They are a pretty big side, all over the pack," Underhill added. "They have guys who get over the ball as we saw against Wales, they counter-rucked pretty well.

"Physically it's important we turn up and take that part of the game away from them."

Underhill said England were well aware of that risk but would be backing themselves to reproduce the speed of ball that kept New Zealand scrambling throughout their semi-final win.

"It's important in our attack to have speed of ball, and that's what the opposition don't want.

"For any attack to function well you need good speed of ball. In defence there's not much you can do for what they bring at you, apart from turn up physically.

"That's going to be a theme. Get that right, and hopefully we will be able to dictate the game."

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

Join us for live updates of the Rugby World Cup final from 10pm, Saturday November 2.

Reuters

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