By Ossian Shine
TOKYO (Reuters) – The mighty South African pack has all the tools needed to end a four-year losing streak against Wales when the two rugby giants meet in Sunday’s World Cup semi-final, Springboks forwards coach Matt Proudfoot told reporters on Tuesday.
The Welsh have won the last four meetings between the two, with the South Africans’ last win coming in their 2015 World Cup quarter-final at Twickenham.
Three of those victories were earned in Cardiff, however, and Proudfoot said the omens may be looking good for his side this time round.
“The fact we’ve always played them in Cardiff, and that one test in Washington – and that test we were juggling the two teams having England the following weekend — so it has always been a tough ask,” Proudfoot said.
“So it’s nice it’s going to be on neutral ground and we have a full squad to pick from. I think that really bodes well for us, that we’ve got the team we want, and a neutral ground,” he said of the Yokohama fixture.
Proudfoot’s forwards were key to the Springboks ending Japan’s magical run last Sunday with a powerful performance and he has faith in his men to once again deliver.
“Every challenge you face as a pack of forwards … whatever their way of challenging you, there’s always a question you’ve got to solve,” he said. “You’ve always got to find a way, find the challenge, identify what you’re going to do about it, and then execute it.
“The biggest thing I am happy about as a forwards coach is how the players have taken on the challenge and taken on the ownership to identify the problems and solve the challenges on the field.
“It’s not that we go out there with a blunt plan and hammer away at it. We’ve got specific things we want to achieve as a pack, and that gives me confidence that whatever the opposition is going to do or change or bring to us, that these guys are equipped to handle that challenge, and I’ve been very happy with the way they have done it. They’re growing every day.”
The winner of this semi-final will play either England or holders New Zealand in the World Cup final on Nov. 2.
(Editing by Paul Tait)