South Africa have started plotting their campaign to take on an ominously in-form New Zealand in the World Cup semi-finals, saying to be the best you have to beat the best.
Flanker Francois Louw said on Sunday he had seen only “snippets” of New Zealand’s crushing 62-13 win over France in Saturday’s quarter final as he had been busy celebrating his own country’s thrilling 23-19 victory over Wales.
The Springboks – bidding to become the first side to lose a pool match and go on and win the trophy – have worries over hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who has a lacerated hand, and lock Lodewyk de Jager, who suffered a foot tendon injury against Wales.
Team officials said du Plessis, de Jager and veteran Victor Matfield, who has a hamstring strain, will be assessed and a decision taken during the week.
Louw admitted he was surprised at the surrender of the French, but insisted the Springboks do not feel overawed ahead of Saturday’s semi-final at Twickenham.
“We managed to watch snippets of it, and obviously it was a great performance from their side (the All Blacks) and a great victory over the French. They are always going to be a strong outfit going into this tournament,” Louw said.
“For us it is not really a concern in the sense that to be the best you have to beat the best, and we take it week by week and focus on the team that we have to face in the week.
“That happens to be the All Blacks now in the semi-final. Our focus will be on them.
“Our paths have crossed a lot in the past and it is always a big game, a bit of a derby really. We will plan accordingly in our preparation and work hard this week.”
South Africa were considered a national disgrace after Japan beat them 34-32 in their opening game. But the Springboks’ confidence has gained in strength with every game since.
Louw however said he was surprised at how easily France were beaten.
“France are a very good outfit and when they do play well, when they do click they can beat any team on the day.
“I didn’t manage to catch the full game so I didn’t see which areas they were weak in, but I thought they would put up a stronger fight against the All Blacks.”
Reflecting on the win against Wales, Louw said the small margins made a difference in the match, which the Boks snatched with a Fourie du Preez try five minutes before the end.
“We always knew it would be a tough challenge going up against Wales, they are not a bad team at all.