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Faf de Klerk's prediction

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'It's going to come down to a lucky moment or a ref call' - Faf de Klerk's prediction for Springboks-All Blacks World Cup opener

Ahead of a blockbuster opening pool game against the All Blacks, the Springboks are quietly confident of handing New Zealand their first-ever pool loss at a World Cup.

That’s according to dynamic Springboks halfback Faf de Klerk, who has been instrumental in South Africa’s resurgence after suffering a 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks in 2017. Since then, the last four games have been separated by just two points.

“The last four games, there have been two points in it, so we are definitely confident that we can win,” explained Faf de Klerk at Tuesday’s press conference.

Although confident the Springboks are expecting an extremely tight game, de Klerk described the match as ’50-50′.

“But I think in this game it is going to be 50-50. It’s going to come down to, probably, a lucky moment or a ref call. We are just going to have to be prepared and take every opportunity we get.

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“It’s going to be very tightly contested. We are two teams who are going to be very well prepared. We have played against each other a lot and seen a lot of clips of each other’s games. It’s probably going to be the guy who tries to outsmart the other team.

“Going into it, we’ve got some confidence behind us with a few wins and hopefully we can carry that into the World Cup.”

Off the back of winning the Rugby Championship in 2019, their first major trophy in 10 years since the Southern Hemisphere’s Tri-Nations expanded, the Springboks now head into the match against the All Blacks as potential favourites.

“I don’t personally think we are the favourites,” de Klerk says.

“Going into the match, both teams can win it. I’m not going to say that we are definitely not the favourites.

“We know that it is going to be a tight game but it’s great to have shown where the team has come from, the way the team has grown and the structures that have been put in place.

The Springboks showed in Wellington earlier this year that they could withstand the pressure the All Blacks built, hanging on in a second half that saw limited possession before their last possession salvaged a 16-all draw.

That test was the first time that Steve Hansen unveiled his surprising tactic of moving Beauden Barrett to fullback and starting Richie Mo’unga at 10, something the Springboks have to be ready for.

“They just slot in everywhere they are needed.

“It doesn’t seem as if there is a massive difference. Mo’unga will sometimes be at 15 and Barrett at 10 – that’s just the way it works, and Ben Smith could also go to 15.

“So their type of play won’t change a lot. We just have to be up for it and do our homework on that.”

Rugby World Cup memories – Neil Back:

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'It's going to come down to a lucky moment or a ref call' - Faf de Klerk's prediction for Springboks-All Blacks World Cup opener