Ahead of their opening World Cup clash against the All Blacks, Springboks assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot has a feeling that Hansen will spring a selection surprise telling media that he wouldn’t be surprised if they ‘had a little trick up their sleeve’.
During a press conference with media on Tuesday, when asked about Retallick’s absence Proudfoot interjected with a question of his own.
“Are you sure he’s not playing?” he quipped back.
“Well, Mr. Hansen said that they have a full squad to pick from – that was his last press release. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a little trick up their sleeve.
Continue reading below…
“If he plays, massive player for them. If he doesn’t play, they’ve got two very good replacements in Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu.
“But he’s a world-class player. But I’m sure that the four second-row players they’ve taken on tour are excellent at what they’re doing.”
The tense mood surrounding the World Cup seems to be building with reports of many teams going to extreme lengths to finalise their preparations, with Wales using baby oil on match balls to simulate wet conditions. For South Africa, how they deal with the humid, wet weather won’t change having first-hand experience playing Japan last week.
“Our plan won’t change. If the weather changes in the game, we will readdress that through the game.
“The plan to come here in advance, to play the warm-up game against Japan, was exactly that – to experience the weather conditions, and I think that plan has been successful.”
Should South Africa come away with a win over the All Blacks, they will likely play Scotland in the quarterfinals avoiding the world’s number one side Ireland. According to Proudfoot, it doesn’t matter who they might face.
“Is Scotland going to beat Ireland? I don’t know. If you understand our mentality, it’s this game: another game against New Zealand. It’s going to be such a tight game, small executions that will determine the outcome of the game.
“I don’t think that if you win this game, you are now all of a sudden a hot favourite for the tournament.
“The competition hasn’t even started and there is so much rugby to be played. We just really enjoy playing against the All Blacks. It’s measuring yourself against one of the best teams in the world – a team that understands us, and we understand really well.”
Rugby World Cup city guide – Kumamoto:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.