Boks will face mighty forward challenge against Italy – Proudfoot

Springboks forwards coach Matt Proudfoot says the team has got a massive job on the weekend when they take on Italy at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Springboks vs Namibia during the Rugby World Cup on 29 September 2019. Picture: @Springboks/Twitter.

SHIZUOKA - South Africa forwards coach Matt Proudfoot says the challenge presented by the Italy pack in Friday’s must-win Rugby World Cup Pool B clash at the Shizuoka Stadium will be on par with New Zealand.

Proudfoot was also pleased to have English referee Wayne Barnes in charge of the crucial clash, the winner of which will likely secure a quarter-final berth with second place in the pool.

The Springboks will be heavy favourites in the contest, but are still smarting from a 20-18 loss to the Italians in 2016 - their only defeat in 15 previous meetings - and must also face up to the pressure of what is essentially a knockout game.

“We have got a massive job on the weekend, this is the most important test we have played in the year. This is what it all comes down to, this one game,” Proudfoot told reporters on Monday.

“I would put this challenge as a forward pack on a par with the All Blacks, they are smart, they have a culture of scrummaging, they have a culture of mauling. They are very effective. The execution under pressure will be key.

“They (Italy) have had two years to prepare for this game and eight days since their last match, so they will be up for it.

“For both of us this is a desperate situation and for Italy, this is their opportunity (to progress), so we will have to be good.”