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  • July 12, 2020

South Africa ready to take on Japan in Rugby World cup quarter finals

In an age when big, powerful players are all pervasive, the diminutive South Africa and Japanese wings have been a breath of fresh air at the World Cup.

The territory gained and the attacking threats posed by these dynamic outside backs have forced their teammates to spread the ball wide in a bid to beat tight defenses on the fringes rather than continuously battering away in the middle.

“There’s a saying going around that dynamite comes in small packages,” said Kolbe, who has overcome an ankle injury and is raring to go in Sunday’s quarterfinal at Tokyo Stadium. “We all have something special we can contribute to our teams. Both Japanese wingers are playing phenomenal rugby, and that is what we have to do for our national teams.

“For me, it’s about giving as much momentum as possible for our forwards to keep going on the front foot.”
Kolbe will likely be marking Fukuoka in a match getting plenty of hype following Japan’s massive 34-32 upset win over South Africa in their previous World Cup meeting in 2015 in Brighton, England.

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“He’s got a lot of speed, is really powerful and explosive,” said Kolbe, who is 175 cm (5 feet, 8 inches) tall and weighs 74 kg (163 pounds). “It’s going to be an exciting challenge.”

Fukuoka has scored 25 tries in 37 tests, including a pair versus Scotland at Yokohama in a win that sealed Japan’s spot in the quarterfinals for the first time.

He also scored Japan’s only try after going on as a substitution in an upset win over Ireland.
Fukuoka, who is the same height as Kolbe but weighs 83 kg (183 pounds), also set up Matsushima’s opening five-pointer against the Scots with a strong burst and stunning offload on the left flank. He stripped a Scottish player of the ball and sprinted away to score the try three minutes after halftime that sealed the bonus point and ultimately the victory for Japan.

The South Africans came off second-best versus the defending champion New Zealand All Blacks in the Pool B opener, and had to settle for the second spot in the group. They were probably preparing for a quarterfinal against Ireland, but Kolbe said they’re ready for anything.

The Springboks have the more seasoned pack, and will be trying to outmuscle Japan across the field in a bid to smother the fast-and-furious game plan that has worked so well so far for the tournament hosts.
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“Japan are playing exciting rugby — they’re giving the ball a lot of air, and want to stretch your defensive structures,” Kolbe said. “It’s a style I love to play as well.


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