The Boks made the journey from Paris back to their base in Toulon by train on Sunday and had Monday off to rest and recover, before lacing up their boots for training on Tuesday.
“Our only focus this week is on Tonga,” said Springbok assistant coach Daan Human. “We are not looking further. We need to beat them to progress to the quarter-final.”
Depending on how the pool pans out, points’ difference could also be important, but Human was careful about placing too much emphasis on that: “The most important thing for us this weekend will be to win and do what we have to do in order to qualify for the quarter-final, and that means we have to scrum well, maul well and get the points we need to qualify.
Putting the defeat last weekend behind them, Human said: “In the last maul, it was probably one of the best lineout throws I’ve seen, and we didn’t score a try. If we had scored there, we would have won the game.”
Springbok loose forward Kwagga Smith was realistic about the defeat against Ireland and said the team would get down to business again this week and work as hard as possible to advance to the top eight.
“Obviously we wanted to win the game,” said Smith. “It was very disappointing to lose, especially since we had opportunities we didn’t capitalise on. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
“But the sun is shining today. It wasn’t a match to win the Rugby World Cup. We have Tonga next, and it’s going to be a physical battle. We want to earn five points from the game so we can go through to the quarter-final.”
Springbok scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse had no doubt the Boks could still defend their title: “We still believe 100% that we can win the World Cup. We have to make sure we go out there and execute our roles well and do what we have to on the field. The end goal keeps us going, even if the last result didn’t go our way.”
Both Human and Smith said they are expecting a massive onslaught from Tonga.
“They have probably one of the heaviest packs in the competition and they bring a massive hit in the scrums,” said Human. “They did well to put Ireland under pressure there, so it will be a big battle.”
Smith also spoke highly of their players: “They are a physical side. In the 50th minute against Scotland the score was still tight, so we know it’s going to be a tough battle. I play with a few Tongan players in Japan and have played against a few too, so I know how physical they will be.”
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber will his announce his team for Sunday’s quarter-final decider on Wednesday night.