TOKYO, 18 Oct – South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard is ready to kick Japan out of their own World Cup.
The Springboks face the host nation in the last quarter-final in Tokyo on Sunday night, and Pollard, above, is determined that will be the end of the road for the Brave Blossoms.
The 25-year-old, who overtook Percy Montgomery as South Africa’s leading points scorer in Rugby World Cup history earlier in the tournament, was practising his kicking in the rain at Tokyo Stadium on Friday evening.
And now he plans to put the boot in on Japan’s hopes of glory, whether that’s from the kicking tee or with a drop goal.
"I’m not going to give away any secrets here, or our gameplan," he said. "But it’s play-off rugby, and we all know the history of penalties in World Cups.
"It’s no secret. It’s very important and could play a massive role in this match, depending on how the game goes and what the flow is.
"It’s something we are always ready to do, if it is time to do it. I’m not going to force anything, if the opportunity presents itself, I will do that.
"Any points - whether it’s three, five or seven, are very valuable points."
Captain Siya Kolisi also believes his team are heading for the semi-final and feels their experience in Japan so far, where they have effectively been playing knockout rugby since game two following their defeat by New Zealand, will give them the edge.
"Luckily for us, it’s been do-or-die since the first game, so we’ve been in that mindset for a couple of weeks now," he said.
"It’s not like any other test match. It’s play-off time now. We have all prepared for it mentally, and the coaches haven’t put that kind of pressure on us.
"We know as players what needs to be done. I don’t think anybody needs to tell us this is a big game. If we don’t know that already, then we are in the wrong place."