South Africa backs coach Mzwandile Stick, centre Damian de Allende and prop Steven Kitshoff

South Africa backs coach Mzwandile Stick, centre Damian de Allende and prop Steven Kitshoff

Mzwandile Stick, backs coach

On whether the team take coverage of their seven-one bench split as a compliment:

"It’s a World Cup, the biggest tournament you can get involved in. If you don’t get people talking about your team, then maybe you are doing something wrong. We just focus on our strengths and what works for us. Sometimes it is not always seven-one but for this game, knowing the challenge that lies ahead and the quality of Ireland, we just wanted to make sure we have got fresh legs on the field."

On whether they are enjoying the cooler weather:

"When we were in Toulon we were working in very warm conditions so to come to Paris under these cool conditions, we are enjoying it. But even when we were training Corsica, we were always trying to make our balls wet because we expected conditions like this. In Port Elizabeth or Cape Town, you can get four different weathers in one day. So a lot of the guys are used to these conditions. But irrespective of it is dry or wet, we will be well prepared for the game."

On whether we should expect some innovations in South Africa’s game on Saturday:

"You are playing against the best team in the world. As a team, we will probably lean more to our strengths. I don’t think there’s going to be much change in how we normally play the game. If you look at the challenges we have faced so far this season, we have played the All Blacks – one of the best attacking teams in the world – twice and if you are not at your best in your systems and defence, they will punish you. It was the same in our first game against Scotland, who are one of the best attacking teams, and Ireland are similar. They are well organised in their systems. They are not just number one for nothing, they are doing something right.

"But in a World Cup, you get different challenges and you have to adapt. As Springboks we are good travellers. You can take us anywhere, we know how to adapt to conditions. We are so solution-driven, that is the strength of our team. I don’t think we are going to change much; we will focus on doing what we do best. It’s going to be a tough game but that is how we want it – we don’t want any easy games. I can tell you one thing – we will be prepared for this game."

On the atmosphere in the Springboks’ squad:

"Everyone involved loves what they are doing. Sometimes we have to work very hard to make sure our players are well prepared, but sometimes we must not forget to have fun. Our environment is very open for players to be what they want to be.

"You get different characters in our team. Pieter-Steph (du Toit) doesn’t say much, then there are guys who are always loud like Trevor [Nyakane] and Siya [Kolisi]. We just want players to be who they want to be, and whatever works best for them to be at their best for the game. We want to travel well, take our team to the people. We want to touch people’s lives, not just in South Africa but around the world.”

On how Antoine Dupont’s injury for France may affect a possible quarter-final:

"Irrespective of who we play in the quarter-finals, our main focus is the game tomorrow. Dupont has been the World Player of the Year and it is very sad for the French people to lose a world-class player like that. We wish him a speedy recovery and all the best. But it doesn’t matter who we play in the quarter-finals."

Damian de Allende, centre

On how he views his confrontation with in-form Ireland centre Bundee Aki:

"I have played against him a few times at Munster but I don’t think he played in the game for Ireland at the Aviva [Stadium] last year. He is a fantastic player, he has always been up there with the best 12s in the world in my opinion and these past couple of games he has been in good form. I know it’s his 50th cap tomorrow and he’s going to be raring to go but I’m looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we won’t disappoint each other."

On how the experience of players and coaches in Irish rugby has helped the Springboks:

"For me personally it helped me with my micro-skills in terms of getting connected with the team a lot better. I think Jacques [Nienaber], Rassie [Erasmus] and Felix [Jones] put a big emphasis on that as well. The way we’ve been coached now and gone forward these past couple of seasons, our individual skills are better and have improved."

Steven Kitshoff, prop (pictured)

On how much he has gleaned from playing against Irish sides in the URC:

"I think the URC was brilliant, especially for us South African teams, getting a lot of experience playing against guys at Ulster, Munster and Leinster, trying to figure out how to get victories against strong Irish teams. I think we understand a bit of the mentality and with Jacques and Rassie and Jean [Kleyn] and RG [Snyman] being in Ireland, you get a better understanding. It is all about getting the prep right in the week to make sure we can perform on Saturday."

On the scrum battle and facing Tadhg Furlong:

“Tadhg is an exceptional player – good scrummager, great ball carrier, good on defence. It’s going to be a tough battle. For us to have a full go at them, we all have to be on par, our pack and the guys off the bench. In big games like this, if your set-piece doesn’t function you are on the back foot, but we have trained hard since we got together in the pre-season camps, trying to improve our scrummage, so we are looking forward to the challenge."

On whether the bookmakers – who make South Africa favourites – are offering a good bet:

"It’s going to be a challenging game. Both sides have a lot to play for. For us, we have to make sure we perform well and keep the momentum gained during the first couple of games. Anything can happen on the night, the team that pitch up the most desperate and willing to work for those extra bits will come away victorious. It’s going to be a close game."

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