Rugby World Cup: Record defeat of All Blacks means nothing to Springboks in build-up to final blockbuster

Less than two months ago, South Africa inflicted a record 35-7 defeat on New Zealand, but the result of that London test will have no bearing on Saturday's Rugby World Cup final, insists Springboks flanker Kwagga Smith.

Their emphatic win at Twickenham was not only the heaviest defeat the All Blacks had suffered, but came on the back of a powerful forward display, with South Africa sparking controversy by naming seven forwards out of possible eight replacements and then overwhelming the Kiwis.

Smith is quick to remind of the numerical advantage the 'Boks enjoyed for much of the match, after Kiwi lock Scott Barrett was sent off in the first half.

All Blacks watch Springboks celebrate their Twickenham victory.
All Blacks watch Springboks celebrate their Twickenham victory. Photo credit: Photosport

"They got a red card at Twickenham and went down to 14 men," he said. "This weekend is the one that counts, so we're really looking forward to it and we know it's going to be an epic battle.

"Upfront with the forwards, it's going to be physical, but we're excited for that. It's a great challenge."

For a second successive time, the South Africans find themselves in the build-up week before a World Cup final, after winning in Japan four years ago.

"I think the coaching staff tried to keep everything the same," added Smith. "Obviously, there's a bit more pressure this week, but we tried to focus on process and train the same as we have been training before."

Bomb squad

Smith, 30, is again expected to be named among the replacements, even if South Africa are unlikely to again pick a seven-one split among the forwards and backs on the replacements bench, when they announce their team.

"If you look at our bench, even back in 2019, it has had a massive impact for the Springboks," he said.

The fabled 'bomb squad' have a proven ability to change the outcome of games, as was the case last weekend, as the 'Boks came from behind to edge England in their semi-final.

"For us, when we are on the bench, we know we've got a massive responsibility to fulfil," said Smith. "The nice thing for us is that we can watch the first half and see where we could be falling short as Springboks.

"We then know what our job is when we go onto the field and we can rectify that. You've got to be ready and make sure that you use your opportunity when you get it."


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