It’s Do-or-Die Time for the Boks in Shizuoka
The South Africa versus Italy encounter later today is effectively a knock-out match for both teams. Whoever wins it, is on track to seal second spot in the group and a quarter-final opportunity against the the winner of Pool A.
Italy, having already dispatched Namibia (47-22) and Canada (48-7) needs to win one of its two remaining matches: South Africa today and New Zealand next Saturday. Given that they’ve never beaten the All Blacks, you can bet that they will throw everything they have at the Boks today.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is well aware of that: “Every game is a knockout game for us now – if we slip up we’re out of the competition so we’ve been incredibly focused,” he said after captain’s practice at the match venue.
Coach Rassie Erasmus admitted that the team is suffering from "a few butterflies" as they prepare for the do-or-die showdown at Shizuoka Stadium. "We've been preparing for 20 or 21 Test matches and it is do-or-die now," he said.
"The players feel it. I can't sit here and tell you that we don't have a few butterflies, because we've lost to Italy in the last three years. They [Italy] will be really up for this game because they won't believe they can beat the All Blacks, but they will believe they can beat the Springboks."
Complicating the job is that specialist outside centre Jesse Kriel has had to be sent home due to a hamstring injury. That caused Erasmus to call for Damian Willemse to replace him, which has received some criticism on social media as it is not exactly a like for like replacement.