South Africa and Samoa step up the Rugby World Cup urgency

By Mike Greenaway

The knock-out nature of tomorrow's Pool D Rugby World Cup match between South Africa and Samoa was reflected in the rising temperatures yesterday in the respective camps.

The Boks need at least one point out of the match to go through to the quarter-finals, Samoa need to win, full stop, and there is a clear elevation in urgency in both camps.

Kane Thompson, the Highlanders and Samoa lock/No 8, was not jesting when he said a public holiday would be declared in Samoa should the team knock the world champions out of the cup, while Springbok prop Gurthro Steenkamp said the prospect of going home on Sunday was scaring the living daylights out the Boks.

"The enormity of the World Cup and what is at stake is suddenly upon us," Steenkamp admitted.

"Look, we have hardly been cruising though the pool, it is just that when you get to a sudden-death situation there is an automatic lift in intensity in everything you do.

"Nobody had to say a word when we trained on Monday - we just stepped it up a notch and climbed into each other on the pitch. The players are clearly digesting the importance of this match."

Thompson said the mood in the Samoan camp was to achieve something "special" by qualifying for the quarters by ending the South African defence of their title.

"We see this as an opportunity to create history. We will be up for this game, definitely, and our supporters at home would appreciate that extra holiday!"

Thompson said the most important component of his team's challenge would be mental toughness.

"If we do not bring the right attitude we will not be in the game. The attitude is there right now but it has to there on match day."

This theme was continued by Thompson's captain, Hurricanes hooker Mahonri Schwalger.

"The bottom line is attitude. We are not worried about South Africa. We are worried about ourselves," he said.

"In the World Cup, there are a lot of tight games and the team that turns up with the right attitude usually comes out on top."

Before naming their side, Samoa had injury concerns over a host of players banged up in the battle with Fiji at the weekend. The Boks have had a much longer turnaround from the Namibia game last Thursday and could choose from 29 of their 30 players when naming their side.

They have a clear advantage in this extra rest they have had between games.

"We are in a good place, mentally and physically," Steenkamp confirmed.

"The rest has done us the world of good. We are confident going into this game but at the same time we know we can't afford to drop this game - we are treating it as a playoff.

"We are not thinking about the bonus point that would be sufficient to get us through, only on winning and removing all questions from the Pool D equation."

But in the Boks' way is a team whipping it itself into a frenzy.

As Tusi Pisi, the former Crusaders and North Harbour centre put it: "These are the games you want to play rugby for. For us, it will be all-out attack.

"We will try to get two or three phrases of structure and then the rest, well, we will just play what we feel."

But if Steenkamp and the rest of the Bok tight forwards have anything to do with it, Pisi will not see much front-foot ball.

"The scrums are going to be very important in this match because Samoa have been scrumming very well and use the platform to launch their big ball carriers," he said.

"It is vital we dominate them in this area to save ourselves a lot of bother after the scrums.

"We have a second front row on the bench and the mindset of the substitutes is to come on and not just to maintain the intensity but to step it up.

Where: North Harbour Stadium
When: 8.30pm tomorrow

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

South Africa
Pat Lambie
JP Pietersen
Jaque Fourie
Frans Steyn
Bryan Habana
Morne Steyn
Fourie du Preez
Pierre Spies
Schalk Burger
Heinrich Brussow
Victor Matfield (c)
Danie Rossouw
Jannie du Plessis
B. du Plessis
Tendai Mtawarira

Paul Williams
David Lemi
Seilala Mapusua
Alesana Tuilagi
Tusi Pisi
Kahn Fotuali'i
George Stowers
Maurie Fa'asavalu
Taiasina Tuifu'a
Kane Thompson
Daniel Leo
Census Johnston
M. Schwalger (c)
Sakaria Taulafo

South Africa: John Smit, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Francois Hougaard, Jean de Villiers.

Samoa: Ole Avei, Anthony Perenise, Logovi'i Mulipola, Ofisa Treviranus, Filipo Lavea Levi, Junior Poluleuligaga, George Pisi.

Boks need one point to go through to the quarters, Samoa need to win

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