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Matfield on the mend

2015-10-11 21:59
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)

London - South Africa are set to be at full strength for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, with lock Victor Matfield and wing JP Pietersen progressing well in their recovery from injury.

Springboks doctor Craig Roberts said on Sunday that he expected both 2007 World Cup winners to be fit for the game but that they must first step up their training intensity.

Matfield's return would create a selection headache for coach Heyneke Meyer, with both Eben Etzebeth and Lodewyk de Jager having excelled in the 38-year-old's absence.

"They have played very well the whole year, Heyneke is very fortunate to have them, and Pieter-Steph du Toit has been very good as well," Matfield told reporters on Sunday.

"It's for the coach to decide. I have said before that it doesn't matter what role it is, as long as I can contribute to the team and help us win the World Cup. Even if it is from the bench ... it doesn't matter, the team comes first."

Matfield also said that South Africa must be wary of the threat posed by Wales, who beat a second-string Springboks 12-6 when the teams last met in Cardiff at the end of 2014.

"Wales are a very good team. We have heard for the last six years that they know how to beat us, so they are confident when they play us," he said.

"They had a good victory over us last year and it's now the quarter-finals -- any team can beat any team."

However, Matfield believes that the additional pressure of the knockout phase could work to South Africa's advantage, given that they have effectively been playing knockout rugby since the shock defeat to Japan in their opening pool match.

"What's nice going into the quarter-finals is that everybody is under the same pressure," he said. "We have been there for the last two or three weeks now, functioning under the pressure."

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