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England wary of 'X-factor' Kolbe in World Cup final

Kolbe missed South Africa's gruelling 19-16 semi-final win over Wales, a victory built on immense forward power and box-kicking, with an ankle injury.

Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe scores a try during a Rugby World Cup 2019 match. Picture: @Springboks/Twitter

TOKYO - England fullback Elliot Daly expects South Africa to give "X-factor" wing Cheslin Kolbe "as many balls as possible" when they face the Springboks in Saturday's World Cup final.

Kolbe missed South Africa's gruelling 19-16 semifinal win over Wales, a victory built on immense forward power and box-kicking, with an ankle injury.

But Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus indicated on Tuesday that Kolbe would come back into the match-day 23 and the 26-year-old could be one of two wings that England have to worry about, with Makazole Mapimpi having already scored five tries at the tournament.

Kolbe has previously impressed for Toulouse, where Daly encountered him playing for former club Wasps.

"I have played against him a couple of times in Europe, he is a good player with very good feet," Daly told reporters at England's hotel on Tuesday.

"He is one of their X-factor players and they will look to get him the ball as much as possible," he added.

"I don't think it will change their structure too much, but they will probably just try to give him the ball in space a bit more."

England defence coach John Mitchell, who became aware of the 13-times capped Kolbe's talent while working in South Africa, added: "He's a fabulous player, well watched by a lot of fans because every time he touches the ball, he's exciting."

But Mitchell, the head coach of a New Zealand side beaten in a 2003 World Cup semifinal by an Australia team under the direction of now England boss Eddie Jones, warned: "One of the things you have to be careful of is that you can't afford to change too much.

"We won't be focusing on making a lot of changes because of his (Kolbe's) presence but we are definitely aware of his strengths," added Mitchell, who masterminded a brilliant England defensive display in their stunning 19-7 semifinal win over reigning champions New Zealand.

Jones suggested on Monday that "cunning coach" Erasmus could change tactics but the former Munster boss said on Tuesday he was not planning to make major alterations in either gameplan or personnel.

"No, no bluffing!" Erasmus insisted. "It's probably exactly the same 23, with Cheslin Kolbe being one of the guys who comes into the match-day 23.

"There's not a hell of a lot you can change in your tactics in two training sessions on a six-day turnaround," he added.

"So you can expect pretty much the same from us on Saturday."

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