Springboks ready for All Blacks, not fazed by intimidating haka

The Springboks are bracing themselves for an epic Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday evening.

The South Africans are signaling readiness for the encounter – and the haka – in what will be their biggest match since the Rugby World Cup final in Japan in 2019.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is expected to announce his matchday squad on Thursday.

The scene has been set for a colossal battle between two of rugby’s greatest rivals and the two best teams in the world according to current world rankings (the Springboks are in first place and New Zealand second) in what will mark their third match-up in 2023.

The All Blacks won the first outing between the sides 35-20 in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in Auckland, with the Boks winning the second match 35-7 in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham in August, which is expected to spice up the final even more.

Springbok locks Marvin Orie and Jean Kleyn are well-aware of the challenge ahead, and they have indicated that they are ready to go to battle.

“I think everyone in the world knows New Zealand are famous for their courageous and skilful play,” said Orie.

“In Auckland, they started that match with intensity, and we took the learnings from that match going into the game in London, and fortunately it went in our favour.

“We are hoping for the same this weekend, but this is a Rugby World Cup final, and we know it will be a tight game.”

With the haka being a vital element on matchday between the arch-rivals, Kleyn said it is nothing new to the team, and that they are ready to face it as they usually do.

“It’s a fantastic tradition. For us, it’s part of playing a match against the All Blacks,” said Kleyn.

“The match we played against them at Twickenham was the first time I faced the haka. It was a great experience and we honoured it as a team.

“On Saturday, we’ll line up against it as we always do, and focus on the game.”

Quizzed about the importance of a strong start given New Zealand’s emphasis on starting matches with a bang, Orie said the Boks know what they have to do on Saturday, as they attempt to register back-to-back Rugby World Cup victories and become the first team to win four titles.

“As the coaches always say, it’s hard to ensure a fast start because the ball can bounce funny at times, but what we can control is to start with good intensity and to prepare well in the week,” said Orie.

“We’ve been doing a lot of analysis on New Zealand, and that included our Rugby Championship match and the game at Twickenham, so hopefully that will assist us in ensuring that we can start with intensity this weekend.” – SARugby.co.za

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