Mzwandile Stick, the assistant coach of the Springbok team, outlined the formidable task that lies ahead for the Boks as they prepare to face France in a highly anticipated Rugby World Cup quarter-final match at the renowned Stade de France, which is expected to be filled to capacity on Sunday.

“There are no second chances now,” Stick told the media on the eve of the match press conference at the tournament’s main media centre at Roland Garros.

“If we don’t pitch up it will be the end of our tournament. It’s going to be a tough match especially with France having the home crowd behind them, but we are also going out there to represent our country.

“It doesn’t get bigger than this (playing the hosts at home), and they are also in a good space as a team. They won all their pool matches and this included a victory against the All Blacks.

“But, for us, we’ve been in this situation before when we played Japan in a playoff match at the last World Cup.

“In that tournament, every match was a final for us, so we know the importance of having to capitalise on our opportunities. It’s a big moment for us, we’re well prepared, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Fullback Damian Willemse and centre Damian de Allende admitted there might be some nerves tomorrow, the team was embracing every minute of having the opportunity to defend the title they won in Japan in 2019.

De Allende also referred to the team’s Rugby World Cup experience going into this encounter and said: “We won the World Cup four years ago through a lot of hard work and we’ve been putting in more hard work in the last three or four years, so we’ve done a fair bit to try to make the team better.

“We’ve also been in a situation where we’ve faced the hosts in a quarter-final, and although we’ll be nervous tomorrow, the entire squad is looking forward to the match.”

The Springboks had the pleasure of welcoming the Gwijo Squad to their captain’s run to the delight of the players and coaches, and Stick said the team was grateful for their support and from all the fans back home.

“It was very special to have our South African supporters here,” said Stick. “They joined us at training, and it was great to see them singing and dancing for the team. We know the whole nation will be behind us tomorrow, and hopefully, we can make them proud.”

Meanwhile, Willemse said France was a strong outfit all around.

“They have threats all around the park, accurate kickers, and they’re ranked second in the world,” said Willemse. “So, they are a very good team.”

With one of France’s main threats being their kicking game, Willemse said they were aware of the challenge they would face in that department.

“We know they prefer to kick the ball long and we’ve made plans to counter that and find space,” said Willemse. “We’ll have to find ways to nullify that and fortunately for us if there is space, we have quick guys on the edges in Cheslin (Kolbe) and Kurt-Lee (Arendse).”

The Springboks concluded their preparations for the match on Saturday. The quarter-final at Stade de France kicks off at 21h00 on Sunday and will be broadcast live on SuperSport. –

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