Springboks aim to control pace of game

‘Nobody has hit better than me this week’ – Koepka on his ball-striking during third round

South Africa's primary goal in their opening Rugby World Cup fixture against Japan will be to control the pace of the game. 

The Brave Blossoms stand little chance of upsetting to two-time World Cup winners but Springbok defence coach John McFarland says his team will be taking nothing for granted.

Japan are known for playing a quick game and the Boks will use the match in Brighton on Saturday as an exercise in controlling the tempo of a contest. 

"Japan definitely pose a threat with the speed of their game and it is up to us to control the pace of the game," said McFarland. 

"They've got some players with Super Rugby experience and they are a well-coached team, coached by a guy who has been involved in winning a World Cup [Eddie Jones].

"We are expecting a quick game and for them to try and take us off the pace of our game. So we must be ready for anything.

"We've watched nearly 20 games of theirs over the last two years and think we now know them inside out. They keep the ball well, they've got some good players.

"It's about how we play but obviously there will be small tweaks we will make game by game. 

"Samoa will certainly have some big blokes trucking it up the channels. So you make small adjustments in each game, but it is about how we play and what we do."

Meanwhile, Springbok flanker Francois Louw says he is fully recovered from his shoulder injury suffered in July and keen to get stuck into Japan.

South Africa's team for the opening Rugby World Cup fixture is set to feature a handful of players returning from injury but 'Flouw' says the team have benefited from extended time together. 

"My shoulder is good to go. I have been doing extensive rehab with the conditioning staff to get me back on track. I have progressed really well, I am fully recovered and I am fit for selection," said Louw.

"It was a big setback in the middle of the Rugby Championship, but now I am ready and it is just up to the coach to put me in the team.

"The injuries we had initially were not ideal, but the fact we stayed within the team environment, did our rehab in the team environment and were a part of the ethos and build-up to the World Cup has helped us.

"We are a tight-knit group, a solid group of guys and it has been really easy to slot back into training and get up to speed with the way that we do things.

"For all the injured guys to come back has been quite easy and it is good to be up and running again."