Boks to test World Cup readiness against All Blacks

Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi acknowledges that there’s sufficient quality depth in his position and admits that he needs to perform in order to enjoy regular action in next month’s Rugby World Cup in France. Mapimpi is expected to play an important role for South Africa if they are to defend the Webb Ellis trophy, they won in Japan four years ago.

The Springboks will take on bitter rivals New Zealand in their final warm-up match at Twickenham in London on Friday evening, with Mapimpi in the number 11 jersey. The last time the two teams clashed, the All Blacks survived a strong fight back from the Boks to win their Rugby Championship match 35-20 in Auckland last month.

The All Blacks made a strong start, which saw them, enjoy a 17-nil lead. But the Boks clawed their way back into the match with tries from Malcolm Marx, Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith.

It was, however, too little too late. Winger Makazole Mapimpi started in that match and will again start on Friday. With the other wings in the squad in scintillating form, there is some pressure on Mapimpi’s shoulders, but he believes that teamwork is more important than the individual players.

“I think more than anything it is sport. I’m kind of proud of the guys that they come up in the team, they are youngsters we always waiting for the guys coming up at the same time. Also it sharpens the team going forward because they have a lot of energy. They just fill the team and all of the guys getting all the energy so it’s a good thing. It’s very important for me if the guy is doing well, it’s not about me it’s about the team,” says Mapimpi.
The All-Blacks’ blistering start in Auckland was helped by the Springboks poor performance in the opening stages, in which they made too many unforced errors. But the world champions want to improve many aspects of their game, to avoid a repeat of last month.

“They came with a massive start off the blocs were obviously preparing better this week to also try and get that quick start, a better start. We pride ourselves on set-pieces; on defence obviously we want to have a quick kicking game have some good attacking plans also. We just need to improve on all of those I think it will be a nice squad effort, much teamwork so we always strive through for a perfect game to be better in all aspects and that’s what we look to do,” says Eben Etzebeth, Springbok lock.

The match marks the first clash between the two teams at Twickenham since 2015. And the Springbok players relish the moment of facing the All Blacks at a neutral venue ahead of the World Cup.

“Playing for your country in a Springbok jersey and playing in a neutral environment at Twickenham, one of the best stadiums in the world probably, 80 000 people against South Africa’s biggest rivals, the All Blacks. Even if you ask that question to anyone, they will give the same answer. We will try to win the test match, we will all be worried about the World Cup after Friday. I think we are focusing on the upcoming game Hopefully it goes well and obviously if it goes well also it builds a bit of confidence going into the world cup,” Etzebeth adds.

“We meet here in England, you know so it’s going to be 50/50. We also excited as the Springboks you know we get a chance now to play the All Blacks before the World Cup. We don’t know we might play them in the quarterfinals or something, we are excited about this Friday,” Mapimpi explains.

The last time the two teams met at Twickenham, eight years ago, New Zealand narrowly won 20-18. Friday evening’s match kicks off at half past eight, South African time.

Source: eNCA

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