Wales may have beaten South Africa when the teams last met but Springbok defence coach John McFarland does not expect that result to have any bearing on this weekend’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
The Welsh made much of their 12-6 win over South Africa in Cardiff last November after a 15-6 pool defeat by Australia last weekend left them with a likely harder last-eight clash against the two-time world champion Springboks, rather than Scotland, at Twickenham this coming Saturday.
Wales’ victory over the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium in late 2014 ended a run of 16 straight defeats by South Africa and, as the match took place outside the agreed “window” for internationals, the visitors were without their European-based players.
Asked about Wales’ confidence, McFarland – whose side bounced back from a stunning opening 34-32 loss to Japan with three convincing wins to top Pool B – told reporters on Monday: “I think we are pretty confident we are going to beat them.”
“I think we are in a good space, we’ve certainly improved and set a marker in terms of physicality and what we want to do in terms of the tournament,” he said in Bagshot, where the South Africans have inherited knocked-out hosts England’s Pennyhill Park training base.
“It will be a tough game on the weekend, knockout rugby always is, it will be about who works the hardest, who dominates the collisions and who takes their chances,” said the Belfast-born McFarland, brought up in London and once a front row forward alongside future England prop Jason Leonard at Saracens.
Wales failed to score a try against Australia at Twickenham last weekend, despite the Wallabies being briefly down to 13 men midway through the second half.
However, McFarland said that owed more to brilliant Australian defence than a weakness in Wales’ attack.
“They were five-metre situations. When you are on the goal-line, you don’t need sweepers,” he said.
“When they (Wales) did move it, one superb read on the fly-half by Adam Ashley-Cooper, he stopped everything stone dead out there. Australia knew it was a game-changer.”
That match was a bruising encounter and Saturday’s clash promises to be equally physical.