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Play without fear, coach Eddie Jones tells England's rugby team

To reclaim title, 2003 champions need to overcome physically intimidating Springboks

England rugby coach Eddie Jones has urged his side to "play with no fear" against South Africa in the World Cup final, despite the Springboks' history of physical intimidation.

The Springboks have played to their physically imposing forward strength during the tournament - most notably in grinding out a 19-16 win over Wales that took them to tomorrow's showpiece match in Yokohama.


While also boasting plenty of power up front, England have played more expansively in knockout wins over Australia (44-16) and reigning champions New Zealand (19-7).

"We've had four years to prepare for this game," Jones told reporters after naming an unchanged starting XV for the final.

"We've got good tactical clarity about how we want to play, we're fit. So we want to play with no fear on Saturday, just get out there and play the game."

Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final and a consultant to the Springboks side that beat England in a Paris final four years later, added: "We know South Africa aren't going to give us the game, they are going to come hard.

"They've got a history of being the most physically intimidating team in the world, so we've got to take that away from them."

England will kick off as the world No. 1 side, with South Africa second, but Jones insisted that was of "no concern" when the final gets underway.

"Three weeks ago, we were hopeless, I was going to get the sack, (captain) Owen (Farrell) couldn't kick a goal. So we don't tend to listen to that noise," said the 59-year-old Jones.

He will also need to overcome his counterpart Rassie Erasmus' tactical nous and ability to sell a game-plan to his players.

Erasmus, 47, has been the catalyst for a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the Springboks, according to former teammate Robbie Fleck.

He has taken the Boks from their worst season in 2016, when they won four out of 12 Tests under ex-coach Allister Coetzee, to tomorrow's final.

Former centre Fleck, who won 31 international caps alongside Erasmus between 1999 and 2002 and as coach of Super Rugby side Stormers for the past four years worked closely with his former teammate, never doubted he would improve the Boks.

"He has always had the ability to turn teams around," Fleck said.

"He did it with the Cheetahs, who he took from no-hopers to the Currie Cup title and made them competitive in Super Rugby. He did it with the Stormers and had success with Munster (in Ireland). He has a clear vision on how the game should be played.

"How the Stormers and Munster played back then is how the Boks play now."

Erasmus, who confirmed yesterday that he will step down after the final, coached the Stormers to their only Super Rugby final in 2010. He is now aiming to lead the Boks to a third World Cup title after wins in 1995 and 2007. - AFP, REUTERS