The Springboks are expecting a “brutal” battle against Tonga in their final Rugby World Cup pool match in Marseille on Sunday September 30 2023, and have emphasized the importance of being accurate on attack and defense to book a place in the quarterfinals.
The Boks are second on the log in Pool B on 10 points, four behind Ireland who lead the group on 14 points.
Meanwhile, the Springbok’s opener Handre Pollard, who returned from injury and joined the national squad ten days ago, will play in the final group match against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday.
A key figure in South Africa’s victory at the 2019 World Cup, Pollard was unable to take part in the pre-World Cup test matches due to a calf injury and was not initially included in the squad sent to France.
Four years ago, Pollard scored 25 points against Japan in the 1/4-final and the same number in the 1/2-final against Wales, before going on to score 22 against England, who lost the final 32-12.
The 29-year-old resumed playing for his English club Leicester on September 15, and was subsequently called up to the national squad to replace injured hooker Malcolm Marx.
South Africa’s defeat by Ireland last Saturday highlighted the shortcomings of kickers Manie Libbok and Faf de Klerk, making Pollard’s presence even more necessary. Having already missed three penalties against Scotland, Libbok then missed a conversion and a penalty against Ireland.
South Africa’s line-up against Tonga include.
Le Roux – Williams, Moodie, Esterhuizen, Mapimpi – (o) Pollard, (m)Reinach – Vermeulen, Wiese, Kolisi (cap.) – Orie, Etzebeth – Koch, Fourie, Nche
Substitutes: van Staden, Kitshoff, Nyakane, Mostert, Smith, Hendrikse, Kriel, Libbok
Trainer: Jacques Nienaber (AFS)
Tonga, on the other hand are in fourth place without any points after suffering defeats against Ireland and Scotland – two of the strongest teams in the pool on the world rankings – but the Boks are not leaving anything to chance to book their place in the top eight and they are determined to get their campaign back on track and to build momentum after going down 13-8 against Ireland last weekend.
“It’s a big week for us against Tonga,” said Springbok fullback Willie le Roux.
“This is knockout rugby for us and it’s going to be brutal because they have some big guys playing for them.
“It’s going to be a physical match and I think there’ll be some sore bodies after the game. Our defense will have to be up for it because they have players that can spark anything from anywhere.”