Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Kirwan calls on ref to speed up ‘slow’ Boks

Former All Black Sir John Kirwan is desperate for a quick game in the Rugby World Cup final against the Springboks.

The arch-rivals are renowned for their contrasting styles of play, with New Zealand stereotypically the swashbuckling outfit and the Boks having the heavy artillery up front.

South Africa will very much look to exert pressure in the set-piece this weekend, while the All Blacks’ strength still comes behind the scrum.

Ian Foster’s men will seek to utilise their talented backline to open up the outstanding Bok defence, and Kirwan is hoping the World Cup final referee plays his role in that.

“I think the most important person in this contest is an Englishman called Wayne Barnes,” he told The Breakdown.

“We cannot have a stop-start (game); we cannot have water drinks coming on at every scrum.

“We’ve got to speed the game up because that’s how we’re going to beat them. For me, it’s critical the referee lets the game flow a little bit because South Africa will be trying to slow it down.”

South Africa’s semi-final contest against England was very much a war of attrition, but the weather and their opponents’ style played a large part in that.

There is no doubt that the Springboks still put their emphasis on their forward power, but they have looked to expand their game over recent years.

Manie Libbok, who is both a running and passing threat, has been the preferred by fly-half, while Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse are an exciting duo on the wing.

However, Kirwan stated that Saturday’s semi-final was “boring” and felt that the All Blacks’ victory the previous day was more entertaining.

“Just because there were tries, and I like that type of rugby,” he said. “What South Africa did in the last World Cup and the reason they’re favourites is that they went out against England and changed their style.

“We all thought they were going to kick it high, but they actually ran it, so what game plan are they going to bring?

“We all know how strategic Rassie (Erasmus) is. What is he going to bring that is a little bit different? And then what are we going to be able to do?”
Favourites for the Webb Ellis Cup

Kirwan may be taking sly digs at the Springboks, but the All Blacks legend believes that the defending champions are the favourites to retain their title.

“We were underdogs against Ireland; we are playing the current world champions, who are the number one side in the world now. We’re underdogs.

“South Africa are favourites. This is the first World Cup we’ve ever gone in to not being favourites.”

The Boks may be favourites, according to Kirwan, but fellow All Blacks great Mils Muliaina believes that South Africa are still searching for their best 23, unlike New Zealand.

“Both sides have come into this with fairly different preparation in terms of team selection. You look at the Springboks and what they’ve done off their bench,” Muliaina said.

“They still aren’t quite sure in terms of their 10. We’re well and truly set in terms of our 23.

“Libbok was subbed off early last week, and then (Handre) Pollard comes in. They’ve had a few injuries, and have swapped players in and out.

We’ve been really set, and what I’ve loved about the All Blacks and their preparation is that they’ve obviously had a plan at stake. They’ve gone with it, and it’s really come off.”

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports |


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