Last Updated: 22/10/19 9:44am
South Africa will need to be at their best to overcome a “formidable” Wales pack in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals, says assistant coach Matt Proudfoot.
Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks, who overpowered hosts Japan in the quarter-finals, meet the reigning Six Nations champions in Yokohama on Sunday, aiming to reach the final for the first time since their 2007 triumph.
Wales have beaten South Africa in five of the respective past six meetings and Proudfoot believes the inevitable forward battle could prove decisive.
“They are a formidable side, an unbelievable rugby side,” said Proudfoot.
“They have great confidence in the way that they play. Wales play to their plan. The way they played against Australia [in the pool stages] was incredible.
“France had to risk it against them [in last Sunday’s quarter-final], and they did, but Wales still won. They are a very well-coached side.
Alun Wyn Jones is expected to earn his 133rd Test cap against the Springboks at the weekend and Proudfoot admits the Wales captain is a pivotal reason behind their run of 20 victories from their last 23 games against all opponents.
“They are a fantastic defensive outfit, so they are a very formidable pack, and they have one of the most experienced Test captains [Alun Wyn Jones] around,” he said of the nine-cap British and Irish Lion.
“That pack has been the heartbeat of a British and Irish Lions pack that’s been to New Zealand, so to go there and win a Test match you’ve got to be a formidable side.”
Meanwhile, No 8 Duane Vermeulen believes South Africa will also have to combat the threat of “talisman” Jones at the lineout, having themselves won all 57 of theirs.
“I must say the guys who run the lineouts are making great calls,” said Vermeulen.
“They put in a lot of work during the week and execution is key for us. It’s nice to walk away with 100 per cent execution, we’re really happy with that.
“But we need to build on that. We’ll have to step up again there against Wales. Alun Wyn Jones knows the lineout inside-out, he’s really experienced, he’s got 120-odd caps for Wales.
“He’s their talisman when it comes to lineouts so we’ve got some things to work on and hopefully we can keep on working on our execution and maintain that record.”
Proudfoot is relishing that South Africa have a full squad to choose from following a run of four successive defeats against Wales.
“We’ve played three matches in Cardiff, and one in Washington DC, where we had to juggle the two teams because we had England the next weekend,” he added.
“So, it’s always been a tough ask. Most of the time, the Cardiff Test was outside the [Autumn] Test window. It’s nice that it will be on neutral ground and we’ve got a full squad to pick from.
“That really bodes well for us – we’ve got the team we want, and we are on a neutral ground. I suppose [Wales] can say the same thing, and now it’s two teams having a go at each other.”
Source : Sky Sports