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Rugby World Cup: South Africa to square up with 'ultimate rival' New Zealand

By Staff Reporter

New Zealand centre Conrad Smith has described World Cup semi-final opponents South Africa as the All Blacks' "ultimate rival".

The southern hemisphere heavyweights clash on Saturday, with the winners returning there seven days later for a World Cup final appointment with either Australia or Argentina.

New Zealand and South Africa last met in World Cup combat 12 years ago, when an All Blacks team containing the likes of current captain Richie McCaw, Carlos Spencer, Doug Howlett and Justin Marshall won a quarter-final clash 29-9 in Melbourne.

Since that meeting, New Zealand have beaten the Springboks 18 times from 27 starts, and their performance in demolishing France three days ago confirmed them as favourites to reach a second successive World Cup final.

But Smith knows the All Blacks can expect a fierce examination. "They are a special opponent, and it's a very special rivalry," he said. "I grew up during the apartheid era, when Australia were the traditional foes, but now South Africa have come back into it and I think it's got back to where it was and they are our ultimate rival."

World Cup SF: Twickenham, Saturday 4pm (ITV)

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