'We are a bit anxious, a bit nervous but also very excited'
Fours years of work by the English under Jones has come down to a single 80 minutes in Japan and the chance to lift the trophy, an outcome completely at odds with their pool stage elimination at the tournament they hosted in 2015 when Stuart Lancaster was in charge.
“We’ve had four years to prepare for this game,” said Jones after he announced an unchanged starting XV from the team that picked off New Zealand in last weekend’s semi-final.
“We’ve got good tactical clarity about how we want to play, we’re fit, we’re enjoying the tournament – the only sadness is that the tournament is going to end.
“We’re having a great time, we want it to continue, but it comes to an end so we’ve got one more opportunity to play well. So we want to play with no fear on Saturday, just get out there and play the game.
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“We know South Africa are going to come hard. We’ve got meet their physicality but we are looking forward to that and being able to impose our game on them.
“We can definitely play better, there’s no doubt about it. The players know that. I have been so impressed by the preparation of players throughout the tournament and particularly this week, there’s a steeliness about them but also a nice relaxed feeling because they know they’ve done the work so they can get on with the job.
“It’s all to happen on Saturday, isn’t it? That’s the great thing. We are like any team, we are a bit anxious, a bit nervous but also very excited about the prospect of playing even better.
“We just have to go out and play. The great thing for us is we know we’ve done the preparation, we’re ready for this occasion. We’ve spent four years getting ready for this occasion.
“That’s why the players can be relaxed, that’s why I can be relaxed because we know we’ve done the work but we are not relaxed about knowing what’s in front of us. We know South Africa’s going to come hard. They’ve got a history of being the most physically intimidating team in the world, so we’ve got to take that away from them.
“The boys know what’s ahead of them, everyone knows what’s at stake but, because we’ve had such a good preparation, we know we can go out there and play without any fear.
It's official… Saturday's showdown with England in Yokohama will be Rassie Erasmus' last outing as South Africa's head coach https://t.co/jS5gGntrQo
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 31, 2019
“That, generally speaking, the World Cup (final) is between the two best teams in the world, you have to win your pool and you’ve got to win a quarter-final and a semi-final so you’ve got to be at the top of your game.
“That means both the teams mentally, physically and tactically, are ready to go. It’s what happens on the day rather than what happens before the game.”
WATCH: England World Cup winner Neil Backs sits down with RugbyPass to talk about his memories of the 2003 tournament in Australia
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