Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks have improved their fitness levels markedly and won’t mind playing a high tempo game against Japan in Brighton on Saturday, lock Victor Matfield says.
The Japanese are renowned for playing a fast paced style and the expectation is for them to try and catch the Boks napping in that regard.
Weather conditions on Saturday could slightly negate that Japanese threat, but whatever plays itself out, the Springboks would be ready for it.
“We’ve worked really hard on our fitness, so we want to lift the tempo of the match. I think we’ve got a good chance to do that against Japan, they play a high tempo game,” Matfield said at a press conference in Eastbourne on Wednesday.
Apart from a few surprise selections, coach Heyneke Meyer picked close to his strongest team for the match.
Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth have been given more time to recuperate from injuries, and apart from the omissions of Willie le Roux and Damian de Allende, the team in all likelihood resembles one which could feature come the knockout phases.
Matfield has admitted that they want to use the match as a stepping stone for the rest of the tournament, considering the fact that they haven’t played a match in a month.
“For us it’s all about building confidence and momentum into the competition, so we can see that the things we practiced are in place, so that we can go forward with great hope in this World Cup.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Brighton Community Stadium is scheduled for 17:45 (SA time).
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 JP Pietersen