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What the Boks make of facing Freddie Steward instead of Marcus Smith

By Ian Cameron
George Martin and Freddie Steward - PA

Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber has weighed in the return of Freddie Steward to England’s backline, with Marcus Smith being withdrawn due to concussion.

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The Harelquins maverick has been replaced at full-back by Freddie Steward after he took a series of blows in the last-eight victory over Fiji that resulted in him finishing the match with a bandaged head and fat lip.

A tackle by wing Vinaya Habosi forced him to undergo an HIA which he passed, but he failed the subsequent return to play protocols and has been stood down for Saturday’s Stade de France showdown.

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“One is a very creative player… Marcus, what a nice guy,” said Nienaber when asked about the England switch-up at fullback.  “Sometimes how you perceive a player, watching him play, you almost perceive arrogance, and then when you meet the guy he is a nice humble guy, always keen for a chat. He oozes creativity – not to say Freddie doesn’t – but he has a different skillset.

“Everybody knows Freddie is incredibly good in the air, a hard, strong runner, good defender. Tactically they are different so we will be prepared for both scenarios.

“We weren’t sure between the two of them. I think Marcus had some sterling performances when he played 15 and he will probably give something different to the English side, and Freddie will give something different, but positive in both ways. I think they will play a little bit different depending on who the full-back is.”

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Nienaber was also asked what he made of England’s strong track record in Rugby World Cup semi-finals, where they’ve lost just one of five previous last-four fixtures.

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“England went into the previous World Cup semi-final against New Zealand probably being the underdog. The reality is we’re facing a good England side. We don’t look at history but we know that where we were in 2019, any team can beat any team on the day. This game is not bigger than the game against France and it’s not bigger than the World Cup final. If you lose this game, you are out, so there is everything to gain.”

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Comments

5 Comments
B
Bob Marler 275 days ago

They may be thinking of making Freddy Steward’s face into Marcus Smiths’…

G
Graham 276 days ago

To lose this game SA will have to have an absolutely terrible day.

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