By Greg Stutchbury
TOKYO (Reuters) – South Africa would not be “one dimensional” and try to just bludgeon a rampant Japan side into submission in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday, according to Springboks forwards coach Matt Proudfoot.
Japan have played an up-tempo game that has combined exceptional skill execution at a blistering speed with a punishing and frenetic defensive line to advance to their first appearance in the last eight.
The Springboks, however, have arguably the largest and best-drilled pack at the tournament, which should provide them with a perfect opportunity to attack the smaller Japanese team at the set piece and also smash over the gain line.
But former Scotland international Proudfoot said the Springboks would not be relying on just raw muscle and heft to suppress the tournament hosts and would continue to mix up their game.
“I think if you have watched how we have played through the World Cup you will see the way we will play,” Proudfoot said. “If you think it’s going to be one dimensional… (well) you’ve seen our evolution, it has changed, it has progressed.”
While the Springboks have said they are not going to only try and rumble over the top of the hosts, they are likely to do a better job of it than Ireland who suffered a 19-12 loss to Japan during their pool match in Shizuoka.
Scotland then tried to match Japan in terms of the intensity and speed of the game in Yokohama on Sunday and were successful for about 30 minutes as they battled back from a 21-point deficit before falling 28-21.
That victory ensured Japan won Pool A and qualified for the quarter-finals, but Proudfoot said it was also instructive for their own plans.
“They (Scotland) threw off the shackles and played their style,” he said.
“That gives us a lot of confidence to know that the Japanese have a very definitive style and are very good at it, (but) if you are confident in what you do then you can apply pressure.
“I think that’s what we took out of it. When we saw the way Scotland can play, they pressured the Japanese.”
Proudfoot added the fact they were facing Japan rather than a traditional rugby power had no influence on the way they were preparing.
“The way we handle this is no different from how we handle New Zealand or England. It’s the same type of mindset,” he said.
“We focus on our battles are and on where our pressure points will be.
“We relish that… opportunity to play in an amazing occasion, amazing stadium and amazing passionate crowd.
“I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christian Radnedge)