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Pietersen relishing Savea battle

2015-10-19 22:47
JP Pietersen (Gallo Images)

Guildford - South Africa wing JP Pietersen insisted Monday he is looking forward to confronting New Zealand flyer Julian Savea, arguably the most potent attacking threat in rugby, in Saturday's World Cup semi-final.

Savea was in supreme form with a hat-trick out of nine New Zealand tries as the reigning world champions thrashed France 62-13 in the quarter-finals.

There were times at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday when the 1.93m, 103kgSavea, simply bounced off would-be French tacklers.

His blistering pace and strength has brought the 25-year-old wing 38 tries in just 39 Tests, including eight in four matches at this World Cup, has seen Savea compared to All Blacks star Jonah Lomu.

Pietersen, no shrinking violet himself at 1.9m and 102kg, was well aware of the task confronting him this weekend.

"I enjoy watching him, and he is a difficult customer and I know it's going to be a tough challenge," said Pietersen at the Springboks' hotel on Monday.

"But you live for challenges," added the 2007 World Cup-winner who has 22 tries in 64 Tests to his credit.

He said comparing Savea to the mould-breaking Lomu, whose record of 15 World Cup tries is held jointly with Springbok wing Bryan Habana, was unfair.

"I don't think you can compare him to Jonah Lomu because Lomu did something to the game that no one else could have done; he changed the game."

"But Julian is a great player in his own way and whatever he does, he does well.

"He is strong in contact, good under the ball and he can also kick."

The 29-year-old Pietersen added: "I haven't played much against him, In Super Rugby, I played against him but I was at centre that day.

And at Ellis Park, when South Africa beat New Zealand 27-25 in the Rugby Championship, Pietersen came off the bench, "so this weekend will be my first proper battle with him.

"In the game of rugby the rules stay the same. He is my opponent and I respect him, and I will have to be at my best."

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