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Rugby World Cup: Brian Habana sure South Africa are up to huge New Zealand challenge in semi-final

By Nick Purewal

Brian Habana has warned that South Africa must be "better than their best" to have any chance of beating New Zealand in Saturday's World Cup semi-final at Twickenham.

The Springbok wing is confident, though, that the players are up to the task.

"To beat the number one side in the world you have to be better than your best in every facet of your play," Habana said.

"Your discipline has to be unbelievably good. Your defence has to be as sound as it's ever been before, your physicality and intensity has got to go 10 notches up and you know you have to be in for a massive 85 to 90-minute game."

Duane Vermeulen believes the massive showdown will hinge on little more than mind games.

The bruising number eight was hailed "a machine" by Springboks team-mate Tendai Mtawarira, but insisted mind will count for more than matter at Twickenham on Saturday.

The last three clashes between South Africa and New Zealand have turned on one single score, and Vermeulen revealed the Springboks will spend extra time with psychologist Pieter Kruger this week.

"I think this week is all mental," said Vermeulen. "We know exactly how New Zealand play and they know how we play.

"The coaches have already sorted out the way they want to attack and defend and what plays they want.

"So as a player in the squad it definitely just comes down to mental preparation, how you get yourself ready for Saturday.

"If you're not happy or right then you get to sit with Pieter (Kruger), and he'll put you in the right direction.

The first couple of games we played this season there was a tense part between 50 to 70 minutes, 20 minutes where we struggled to get points. He showed that to us and after that, you've just really got to see it and get that little bit of a mind shift.

"Suddenly you cannot score tries but you can still score points and build that scoreboard pressure, to put yourself ahead or when you are behind you can keep the boxes ticking.

"They can always offer something extra, the special moments that turn a game - but we'll be ready."

Belfast Telegraph


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