Springboks captain impressed with fortitude shown by Sam Cane

8:14 am on 27 October 2023
Sam Cane of New Zealand is seen ahead of the 2023 Bledisloe Cup rugby match between the Australian Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Saturday, July 29, 2023. (AAP Image/James Ross/ www.photosport.nz

All Black captain Sam Cane Photo: AAP / www.photosport.nz

All Blacks skipper Sam Cane is an inspiration according to the Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.

The two sides are getting ready to go head to head in the Rugby World Cup final in Paris on Sunday morning.

In the 2018 Rugby Championship victory over South Africa in Pretoria, Cane fractured his neck and faced months of recovery post-surgery.

The 31-year-old was immense in both the quarter-final and semi-final victories and is now in a World Cup final.

Kolisi captained South Africa in that game in 2018, when Cane had to leave the field, and said the fortitude he had shown was remarkable.

"I know what an amazing player he is and what a good leader he is and I think for somebody that thought he would never play a rugby game again for him to fight through to play for a country that's been successful for so many years, it takes a lot out of you and it does get lonely and it does get tough, has really been amazing," Kolisi said.

Cane first captained the All Blacks against Namibia at RWC 2015 and also led the side against Italy in 2016. In 2020 he was elevated to the captaincy full-time.

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber named his side for the final last night and included hooker Mbongeni "Bongi" Mbonambi after World Rugby found "insufficient evidence" to proceed with charges of alleged racism against the front rower.

World Rugby undertook a review of the allegations made by England's Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language by Mbonambi during last week's semi-final at Stade de France, which the Springboks won by one point.

The sport's governing body said in a statement that the matter closed unless additional evidence came to light.

Nienaber insists the racism allegations had not been a distraction for his side ahead of the final.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"We are fortunate in terms of the support of the legal team and everybody that worked behind the scenes. We were very shielded from it ...we were in our bubble. We just focused on rugby and that was taken care," Nienaber said.

The England Rugby union said in a statement they're "deeply disappointed" with the decision not to sanction Mbonambi, saying World Rugby were told by Curry that he had also been the victim of the same abuse, from the same player, in a test last year.

Curry, Mbonambi and their families have been subjected to abuse on social media this week and Kolisi said he had spoken to the England flanker and offered his support.

"We can take it as players when it comes to us directly it's fine but when it comes to your family it's totally different. It's really hard when families are involved, it's the one part of the game that we really don't enjoy. I feel for him and I feel for his family," Kolisi said.

The defending champion Springboks have made five changes to their match-day 23 for the final with halfback Faf de Klerk and first-five Handre Pollard coming into the starting XV.

The other three changes are in the reserves, where South Africa have picked seven forwards and one back, like they did in the record win over the All Blacks at Twickenham in August.

Will Jordan of New Zealand.

All Blacks wing Will Jordan has eight tries so far in France. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Neinaber believes the 7-1 split gives them the best chance of beating New Zealand.

"Obviously I'm not going to say what's their strength and weaknesses I think that would be stupid from me. But there's been a lot of analysis that's gone into them. But a squad of 23 ... it could have been a 6-2 a 5-3 it doesn't matter, we believe

that they can win us a world cup back to back."

Willie le Roux is the only back on the Springboks bench and he said his side would draw motivation and inspiration from past wins over the All Blacks, including the 1995 World Cup final.

"That would be unbelievable I think I was six years old the 1995 and I can just remember my Dad and Mum screaming in the house and I couldn't understand exactly what was going on but to be able to have a chance to play in the final against them makes it extra special," le Roux said.

All Blacks wing Will Jordan has eight tries so far in France and if he dots down in the final he will break the record for the most tries scored in a single World Cup.

Le Roux said Jordan was a special talent that they'll need to shut down.

"He's an amazing all-round player, he chips and chases, he can do anything, scores from anywhere, create something out of nothing, so an unbelievable ball player."

Jordan has 31 tries from 30 tests and if the Springboks can keep him from scoring on Sunday, they'll likely give themselves a pretty good shot at winning a record fourth World Cup crown.