October 31, 2019 / 3:29 AM / 22 days ago

Fully-fit Kolbe prepared to do whatever it takes for final win

TOKYO (Reuters) - Cheslin Kolbe was frustrated at being kept out of the Rugby World Cup semi-final due to an ankle injury but the South Africa winger says he would not be taking the field for the final against England if not 100% fit as to do so would be “selfish”.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - South Africa Training - Arcs Urayasu Park, Urayasu, Chiba, Japan - October 30, 2019 South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe during training REUTERS/Edgar Su

Kolbe missed the Springboks pool match against Canada with the injury and had to leave the field in the latter stages of the quarter-final against Japan before sitting out their 19-16 semi-final win over Wales.

Coach Rassie Erasmus said earlier in the week that he expected to bring the 26-year-old back into the squad for the final and he confirmed the winger’s selection on Thursday.

“I’m really confident, I always give my 100%,” Kolbe told reporters. “I’ll never go out on the field when I’m not 100% because that’s just selfish as a player.”

South Africa, beaten 23-13 by the All Blacks in their opening pool game, have advanced to their third final on the back of a massive forward pack that wears the opposition down and feeds off mistakes.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flyhalf Handre Pollard have tended to kick first then seek to ask questions of opposition defences later, with the exciting outside backs like Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi left to chase high balls.

It is the same tactic that led to South Africa beating England in the 2007 final, though one which did not fully utilise the talents of the mercurial Bryan Habana on the wing.

Kolbe said that, like any outside back, he preferred to play with the ball in hand but acknowledged the coaches had a game plan that had led them to the final and he would do what was required of him.

“There are structures, plans put in place,” he said. “If you wear that jersey, it’s whatever it takes to wear it and give the best on the field.

“Whether it’s chasing up on a kick, be up on defence or run with the ball in hand, it’s just going to be whatever it takes to make it work and make sure the team benefits at the end of the day.

“I obviously do enjoy running with ball in hand, but the game has really differed in the last couple of months in terms of being more aerial, battle-wise.

“I think there’s going to be a bit of contest in the air and chasing and I think that the team that’s going to be up for that is the team that’s going to pull it through.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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