Boks’ Bomb Squad vows to shake up the All Blacks

Rugby World Cup final: All Blacks v Springboks. Where: Stade de France, Paris. When: 8am Sunday (NZT). Coverage: Watch live on Stuff (with te reo commentary option), Sky Open and Sky Sport 1 from 6.30am.


Put aside thoughts of staggered semifinals and quick turnarounds. Put aside thoughts of broken bones and wounded psyches. The Springboks are poised to play the match of their lives against the All Blacks at Stade de France this weekend after securing the Rugby World Cup final they desired against their fiercest opponents.

That much was evident after hearing two players from South Africa’s famous “Bomb Squad” set the stage for what looks to be a historic World Cup final in Paris on Saturday night (Sunday NZT), as both teams aim to become the first Webb Ellis Cup winners to win the competition four times. Key players Kwagga Smith and Willie le Roux, who were instrumental in the stunning comeback to defeat England 16–15 in the semifinal, were reflecting on the battle between the best teams in this tournament with equal parts respect and intent.

“There’s always respect,” declared le Roux, whose wild celebration at the end of a razor-thin semifinal provoked a confrontation with the England players. The rivalry has a lengthy history. The games that the boys have played against one another have always been fiercely competitive, and it’s evident that they gave it their all thereafter. Thus, there is unquestionably a great deal of respect between the All Blacks and the Springboks.

Sufficient for the two to, come what may, drop by each other’s changing rooms afterwards?

“The battle out there is simply one of hardness. Le Roux said, “On the field, there are no buddies. “That occurs after the game is finished, at which point everything is revealed.”

Le Roux, who leads the South Africans with experience off the bench, stated that his team would be thinking back on the past and the significance of the game as they got ready to face a formidable New Zealand team that had rested a day after easily defeating Argentina 44-6 in the semifinals.

“You have to be ready at all times when playing the All Blacks,” he stated. It’s the big game, and it’s made even more special by the fact that we’re playing them in the World Cup final. You really can’t wait to express yourself and put everything out there regret-free because it’s going to be a spectacle and an incredible game. That is what the situation will require.

“The last time the teams played in a World Cup final, in 1995, I was six years old. I just remember my parents yelling at me from across the house, and I didn’t know what was going on.” It would be incredible to get to play against them in the championship game.”

Le Roux was questioned over the “bulletproof” mindset that had developed since Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus joined the team in 2018 to revitalize a failing national program.

“We just went with that and have been evolving till now. We started going back to our strengths, to what South Africans are good at – set piece, the kicking game.” It’s always about improving, and we’ve played a number of challenging games that have put us to the test.

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Le Roux’s eyes practically lit up when he was asked about the task of stopping All Blacks wing Will Jordan adding to his eight tournament scores and becoming the greatest try-scorer in the event’s history.

“We all buy into our defensive plan, and stick to what we think is best. We can stop … everyone from scoring. Not just him. We can stop the All Blacks from scoring. That’s the main job for us on Saturday.

“He’s an amazing all-round player. He chips and chases, he can do anything, he scores from anywhere, creates something out of nothing.”

Respect ... Captains Siya Kolisi and Sam Cane will go at it with the World Cup title on the line in Paris.
Respect … Captains Siya Kolisi and Sam Cane will go at it with the World Cup title on the line in Paris.

Loose forward Kwagga Smith backed up his fellow Bomb Squadder’s sentiments about the occasion, the opponent and the attitude.

“I have been playing against the All Blacks in all forms … I played under-20s against Ardie (Savea), played sevens against them, and now XVs. There’s a lot of respect and we know we are going to bring out the best in each other. Playing the All Blacks is an honour. It’s going to be physical but it gets me up.

“The disintegration holds particular significance. They make excellent fetchers. Thus, we must exercise caution and ensure that we maintain possession of the ball. We’ll give it our all, but they are excellent players, and I particularly like [their back row].”

It felt odd to question Smith about a supposedly disrespectful attitude toward the world’s top team, the Lions, who are also world champions. His remark was spot on: “We don’t play for people’s respect, we play for each other and for South Africa.”

Of course, Smith wasn’t giving too much away when it came to his inclusion in that exceptional finishing group. He stated, “It’s been building up for years.” We can watch the first half of the show, for example, and identify where we’re lacking, so we know what needs to be done going forward. You are aware that you must be prepared and take advantage of your opportunity when it arises.

Subsequently, Smith was questioned about how his impact group, his team, could cope with an All Blacks side and all the points they would probably score.

“There may not be many points because it’s the World Cup final. Throughout the game, there may only be three possibilities; when they present themselves, we must seize the opportunity to score points.

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