Whiteley: Bok forwards can dominate England up front
South Africa scrapped to a 19-16 win over Wales on Sunday in which both teams almost cancelled each other out with their kicking tactics and the battle upfront.
JOHANNESBURG - Former Springbok captain Warren Whiteley believes that England are the favourites heading into the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday but is confident that South Africa has the tools to hurt them.
South Africa scrapped to a 19-16 win over Wales on Sunday in which both teams almost cancelled each other out with their kicking tactics and the battle up front.
The difference between the two sides was a Handre Pollard penalty in the 77th minute as the Springboks secured a spot in the final for the third time.
England, on the other hand, was masterful against a below-par New Zealand side and go into the final with momentum on their side.
Speaking on Sports Talk on Sunday night, Whiteley was no under no illusions that the Boks have not hit full tilt yet.
“There is still a lot of room for improvement going into this final, we haven’t played out best yet and that gives me a lot of hope. We haven’t played our best and we've still made the final and only lost to the All Blacks,” Whiteley said.
Much has been made of the forward dominance that South Africa has been able to impose on almost all of their opponents at this World Cup and despite giving England the favourites tag, Whiteley believes that the South African forwards will once again dominate the opposition.
“Defensively we have been phenomenal throughout this World Cup, so again there will be an emphasis this week to be defensively sound against England. I believe we have the superior forward pack and so we can dominate them up front, which is what New Zealand failed to do,” he said.
The team selection throughout the competition has been consistent as Rassie Erasmus looked for continuity to build momentum in the pool stages and heading into the knockout phase as well.
A massive part of that team selection has been the six-two split in favour of the forwards on the bench, something that Whiteley thinks will give the Springboks the edge.
“The depth that we have in the forward pack is just phenomenal and the difference that the bench made was huge for us. I feel we have the superior bench coming onto the field in the final 20 minutes and I think in the final it will also be crucial,” he said.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 11 am (SA time).