- Steward tipped to replace Smith after a clash of heads
- Farrell set to continue at fly-half
- South Africa unchanged
Clash of heads leaves Smith doubtful
Smith, unfortunately, collided heads with winger Vinaya Habosi during England’s hard-fought 30-24 victory over Fiji in Marseille last weekend. While Smith successfully passed the Head Injury Assessment (HIA), there are concerns that he might be dealing with an underlying concussion, potentially ruling him out of the upcoming match.
“Air Steward” to counter Springbok’s high ball threat
The 22-year-old Steward’s inclusion is expected to bring a crucial aerial dimension to England’s strategy, countering the Springboks’ anticipated high-ball tactics.
Sources indicate that the only change to the starting XV from the Fiji match will be Leicester Tigers’ Steward stepping in for Smith. Owen Farrell is anticipated to assume the role of fly-half and captain the team, while George Ford is poised to provide additional depth from the bench.
South Africa Unchanged
Meanwhile South Africa have announced an unchanged lineup for the clash in Paris.
In a nail-biting quarter-final, the Springboks secured a narrow 29-28 victory over hosts France, showcasing their resilience and determination.
The team’s selection sees Cobus Reinach and Manie Libbok retaining their positions as half-backs, while Handre Pollard remains on the bench as a formidable option at fly-half.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber has opted to maintain a balanced split of five forwards and three backs among his substitutes, highlighting the team’s strategic approach.
Reinach, who demonstrated exceptional prowess in handling the French kicking game, steps in for regular starter Faf de Klerk for this crucial semi-final clash.
Remarkably, eight members of South Africa’s starting XV were part of the triumphant World Cup final against England in Japan four years ago, underlining the team’s wealth of experience.
The formidable back row, led by captain Siya Kolisi, is set to reprise their roles alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen, forming a formidable trio for the 15th time.
South Africa’s sole defeat in France thus far was against Ireland in the pool stage, whereas England enters the match buoyed by their quarter-final victory over Fiji.
Coach Nienaber expressed confidence in the squad’s preparation, stating, “We’ve been building a quality Rugby World Cup squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches.”
He acknowledged the intensity of the encounter, emphasising that both teams are a single game away from vying for the coveted World Cup trophy.
In a testament to the team’s depth, veteran full-back Willie le Roux features among the replacements, alongside impactful forwards RG Snyman and Kwagga Smith, whose power made a notable difference against France.
South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, Reinach; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Fourie, Nche, Koch, Snyman, Smith, De Klerk, Pollard, Le Roux.
The winner of this match will advance to face either Argentina or New Zealand in the final at the Stade de France on Saturday, 28th October.
South Africa are strong favourites going into the semi-final showdown. The Springboks are also favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
At the time of writing, Betfred have South Africa at 2/11 to beat England, with England 4/1 and a draw 28/1.