John McFarland (Gallo Images)
Eastbourne - Controlling the pace of the game is a priority for South Africa as they plan for their opening Rugby World Cup fixture against Japan in Brighton on Saturday, assistant coach John McFarland said on Monday.
"Japan definitely pose a threat with the speed of their game and it is up to us to control the pace of the game. They've got some players with Super Rugby experience and they are a well-coached team, coached by a guy who has been involved in winning a World Cup (Australian Eddie Jones)," McFarland said.
"We are expecting a quick game and for them to try and take us off the pace of our game. So we must be ready for anything.
"We've watched nearly 20 games of theirs over the last two years and think we now know them inside out. They keep the ball well, they've got some good players."
But he insisted the Springboks were more concerned with successfully executing their own game plan.
"It's about how we play but obviously there will be small tweaks we will make game by game. Samoa will certainly have some big blokes trucking it up the channels. So you make small adjustments in each game but it is about how we play and what we do."
South Africa's other Pool B opponents are Scotland and the U.S.
English-born McFarland, who is the defensive coach of the Springboks, also said fitness levels among the South African players had increased dramatically after weeks of intensive pre-Rugby World Cup preparation.
"We've worked very hard and certainly all the testing has shown that the conditioning levels have increased dramatically and you can see it in our game stats over the last eight weeks. Guys were getting up off the floor quicker. But the test is always on game day and that never changes.
"If you are in good shape you get up quicker, you feel better, you are confident," McFarland added.