Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

England do not worry us: Fourie

South Africa centre Jaque Fourie claims his team have made no special plans to counteract England's expected forwards-based approach in the run-up to Saturday's World Cup final.

The world champions have bludgeoned their way to the showpiece through the strength of their pack and the opportunism of goalkicking fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

Having ground out narrow victories over Australia in the last eight and France in the semi-final, England are expected to pursue their same tactics and use brute force to get the better of the Springboks in Paris this weekend. The South Africans are powerful up front themselves but have also been a sight to behold in attack, with the likes of Fourie, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen showing electric form out wide.

Fourie, who has been one of the tournament's leading centres, insists the Springboks are more concerned about improving their own game rather than worrying about what England have to offer.

"We are not going to change anything in our game plan," said the Lions playmaker.

"We just want to do everything better than we have done in the past seven weeks.

"I think early in the game we should just play to our own structure but I think we will ask questions of their defence. In any knockout stage, it's not about how many points you win by, it's about winning. Nobody will remember how you win it, just that you won it. It's a final so anything can happen. But they have done their preparation and I don't necessarily think they will just play 10-man rugby."

The graceful Fourie lost long-term centre partner Jean de Villiers to injury in his team's first game of the tournament.

De Villiers ruptured his biceps attempting to make a tackle against Samoa in the Springboks' opening Pool A game, and had to return home.

At first, it was seen as a massive blow to coach Jake White's plans, but replacement centre Francois Steyn has plugged the gap magnificently.

Steyn, 20, has been tipped as one of the future South Africa stars and has already made a splash in France with his bold approach and youthful exuberance.

Whether he will see much of the ball on Saturday is another matter entirely, but Steyn has a big admirer in Fourie.

"It hasn't taken long for us to gel because I think Francois is in the same mould as Jean de Villiers," added Fourie. "He is an exciting player and he likes to make things happen - the way he plays is just in his nature. He's so young and in the next few years, he will become a great player."

Steyn, who has the same build and style as England's precocious centre Mathew Tait, is an adventurous runner but has been accused of taking the wrong option on occasions.

"Sometimes stuff doesn't happen how I would like it to happen and sometimes I get a little bit hard on myself," said the Sharks utility back. He (Jake White) doesn't come down on me, but I think he wishes he could give me a hiding. I like Jake a lot and he gave me a good opportunity. I just hope I can take it with both hands."

Pietersen added: "They have got their own game plan, but they have some talent in their backs.

"We cannot underestimate their back line, we always have to be on our toes. We can't be relaxed about that just because they have not been playing wide. Jason Robinson, for example, is a very dangerous player and we cannot give him enough space."

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