South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe insists his side will not let the ghosts of 2015 haunt them as they prepare for their World Cup rematch with Japan. The Brave Blossoms caused the biggest upset in World Cup history four years ago with their ‘Miracle of Brighton’ win over the Springboks.
But it would rank as no surprise to see the hosts repeat that feat when the teams meet again in this year’s quarter-final showdown in Tokyo on Sunday. Jamie Joseph’s side have already proved their credentials by beating Ireland and Scotland on their way to topping Pool A with four straight wins.
But Toulouse winger Kolbe is confident his side will not be distracted by painful memories. “If you look at the current World Cup and compare it back to 2015, the rugby has definitely gone a different way,” Kolbe said in Tokyo ahead of Sunday’s match.
“It’s not the same style of rugby being played. Teams are very much more technical currently than the previous tournament. But knowing we had the loss to Japan in 2015, I wouldn’t say that’s stuck in our head. We know that it happened but this is four years later.
“We’re playing Japan in the quarter-final so we will make sure we’re really well prepared and won’t have what happened in 2015 in the back of our heads.”
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Both Ireland and Scotland struggled to contain Japan’s relentless energy in attack. The pace and ruthlessness of wingers Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima has been key to their success, with the pair contributing nine tries between them so far.
Neither rank among the giants of the game but at 5ft 7ins himself, Kolbe knows it is not always size that counts. He said: “There is a saying that dynamite comes in small packages.
“I think it all depends on different players. We all have something special to contribute to our various teams. Both Japanese wingers are playing really phenomenal rugby.
“I played against Fukuoka at the Rio Olympics. He’s a really good player and is very powerful and explosive. I also played against Matsushima back in 2012 when he was playing in the Currie Cup in South Africa. I know he loves to run with the ball and have a lot of freedom.
“But what happens on Sunday will come down to the team that wants it the most. Japan are playing some really exciting rugby. They are giving the ball a lot of air and they want to stretch your defence structures. That is a style I love to play, but as a team we have our own plan that we will try to implement.”
– Press Association
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