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Bok defence coach Nienaber wary of Italian threat

The Springboks and Italy have played each other 14 times over the years with the Italians winning just once. That win came in 2016 when the Boks went down 20-18 in Florence.

Italy players doin the hard yards before a match. Picture: @Federugby/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa head into their Rugby World Cup clash against Italy on Friday knowing that a win is needed to keep their hopes alive for qualification into the quarterfinals.

A win though, unlike against Namibia, is not guaranteed and the Springboks will definitely have to up their game if they are to beat Italy.

The teams have played each other 14 times over the years with the Italians winning just once. That win came in 2016 when the Boks went down 20-18 in Florence.

There are 10 survivors from that squad that will take to the field again, looking to put in a better performance than they did three years ago.

Springbok defence coach Jacques Nienaber admitted the Italian brains trust had been causing him sleepless nights in the build-up to what could be a deciding game in Pool B.

“Conor [O’Shea], [Marius] Goosen, [Mike] Catt and [Giampiero] De Carli are students of the game and they have been involved in it for a long time and they make good plans. Obviously they will challenge us. They’ve got a good pack and good backs as well. I’ve been lucky enough to coach against teams like Benetton and Zebre in Europe and their rugby has grown in terms of Conor’s guidance in recent years”, he said.

The Springboks are definitely wary of the threat that Italy pose up front, with Rassie Erasmus opting for a six, two split in favour of the forwards on the bench.

“Their forwards will maul well and they’ve got a good scrum. If you look at their launches from scrums in the Six Nations against teams like England, they ‘cut’ them, put them under pressure”, Nienaber said.

Kick-off on Friday is at 11:45am South African time.

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