The Springboks have done it, they defeated hosts France in an incredible quarter-final last weekend. Outside of the republic there weren't many who thought it possible, but we will always back our boys and they pulled through for us in emphatic fashion. That game against Les Bleus will go down as one of the greatest ever played at a World Cup. That is done and dusted now though, and our focus must shift over to the challenge that England pose.
The Springbok coaches have never been risk averse. They aren't scared to experiment in all facets of the game, whether it be the constructs of the bench, the starting combinations and even being as bold as to go for a scrum after calling a mark in the 22. The bold selection of Cobus and Manie paid off, as did the call to have Faf and Handre on the bench. The balance of 5/3 was needed for the French and the management must be commended for getting it spot on.
Looking at the England game that awaits us, it would be too easy to assume that we will beat them, as it seems everyone is judging them on their pre-tournament form. I will admit it is great fun reminding them of the 32-12, I mean I couldn't help myself but to pop it up on Sunday night already. Whilst jokes and banter are all good fun, we would be kidding ourselves if we think this game will be a walk over.
England are the only unbeaten side at the tournament. Yes you can argue about their opponents thus far, but you can not discount the pressure they were under to perform and how that would have united their squad. Nor can you ignore the fact that they have momentum now. Borthwick didn't have the greatest of starts to his tenure, but securing a semi-final has gone a long way to ease that pressure on both him and his squad.
To beat the English, we are going to have to dig deep again. We are going to have to take calculated risks and I am sure the Bok coaches have a few tricks up their sleeves. We never need much to hype ourselves up against England, but it will be about channeling that hype into something constructive. Now the question is, will there be changes to the match 23 for this one?
In 2019 we pretty much fielded an unchanged side through the play-off's, but I'd argue that our depth back then wasn't as solid as it is now. The only change we made for the semi-final was Sbu Nkosi on the wing for Cheslin, who would ultimately return for the final. I do foresee minor tweaks to this team, mainly to meet the challenges posed by England and their forwards in particular. Wholesale changes though? I am doubtful.
The Springbok team will be formally named tomorrow, so here is my prediction on what the 23 will look like. I have reverted back to a 6/2 split, meaning Willie misses out and I will be giving Duane a little respite by shifting him to the bench for this one and bringing Jasper in to start.
Siya Kolisi (c)
Pieter-Steph Du Toit
Damian De Allende
Faf De Klerk