TOKYO – Winger Cheslin Kolbe is likely to be back in the South Africa matchday squad for the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup final against England in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday, coach Rassie Erasmus said on Tuesday.
Kolbe, an important attacking weapon for the Springboks, missed their pool match against Canada with an ankle problem and had to leave the field in the latter stages of the quarter-final against Japan before sitting out the semi-final.
He was replaced by Sbu Nkosi for the semi-final against Wales but Erasmus said the 26-year-old was available for selection and almost certain to be in the 23 to face England.
“We are lucky enough to have all 31 players available and ready to train,” Erasmus said. “Our team selection won’t be too far off from what it has been over the last two games.
“It will probably be exactly the same 23 with Cheslin Kolbe coming back into that 23.”
“We believe that is the best way we can get the best out of our team.
“It’s a bit of horses for courses (selection) but also we think it is our most in-form, fit, best combination available.”
The Springboks have faced some criticism for their direct style of play, which has been dominated by their forwards smashing into contact and tactical kicking by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flyhalf Handre Pollard.
Erasmus, however, said the short turnaround between their 19-16 semi-final victory over Wales on Sunday and the final with England would limit tactical changes.
“I have got 160 minutes to train and a six day turnaround, there is not a lot we can change in that,” Erasmus said.
“If we had a seven or eight day turnaround we probably could change a few things but there are not a hell of a lot of tactics you can change in six days.”
While South Africa have a far more expansive game plan in their back pocket – as evidenced in matches against New Zealand over the last two years under Erasmus – the coach said he was not “bluffing” in his public comments about the team.
“If you understand where we have been coming from, being sixth, seventh, eighth in the world, we have got certain challenges and one was just to redeem ourselves and become a power again.
“By doing that, you have to have some building blocks in place. We have followed a certain route and play according to the stats and the way the game is being refereed currently and what it gives you is short term good results on the scoreboard.
“We certainly accept that there are some things in our game that we need to improve and we take that on the chin.
“But we have put ourselves in a position to win the World Cup … which is where we want to be.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Lincoln Feast)