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‘Beast’ braced for English onslaught in Saturday’s final

South Africa's Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira believes the Springboks will have to "play out of our skins" if they are to beat England in the Rugby World Cup final.

England booked their place in Saturday's showpiece match in Yokohama with a stunning 19-7 win over New Zealand last weekend that ended the All Blacks' eight-year reign as world champions.

By contrast, South Africa ground out a 16-13 semi-final victory over Wales in an attritional contest 24 hours later to set up a repeat of the 2007 final that the Springboks won 15-6.

"They (England) are playing great rugby and with confidence so it is going to be a big challenge for us," said Mtawarira, whose "Beast" nickname is an affectionate tribute to the 114kg prop's strength.

"They were charged up for the (New Zealand) game, right from the first minute. They got on the front foot, were more physical and got their reward."

South Africa have been triumphant in their two previous World Cup finals, memorably beating New Zealand on home soil in 1995 before defeating England in Paris in 2007.

DIFFERENT HISTORY

Victory on Saturday would continue their sequence of being crowned world champions at 12-year intervals, but it would also mean the Springboks having to make history of a different kind as well.

Every team that have lifted the Webb Ellis Cup have gone through the tournament unbeaten.

South Africa, however, lost their first match in this tournament, going down 23-13 to arch-rivals New Zealand in Yokohama last month.

But Mtawarira, a veteran of 116 Tests who is set to retire after the final, knows that history will mean little when the teams line up.

During the finalists' previous meeting last November, England edged out the Springboks 12-11 at Twickenham.

"What has happened in the past doesn't really count. We know we'll have to play out of our skins to win it on Saturday," he said. - AFP

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