South Africa forwards coach Matt Proudfoot admits the Springboks were left in awe of England’s win over New Zealand but has urged his players to treat the World Cup final like any other game.
The two teams will meet in Yokohama on Saturday, a repeat of the 2007 final, and Proudfoot says he was impressed with the manner of England’s victory over the All Blacks.
“It was just a great game to watch, jeez it was a great game,” said Proudfoot, when asked if England are now favourites in the final.
“I think they’ll pretty much take it the same way they did that game. I don’t think teams look at it really differently like that, I think they just look at what’s in front of them and what they’ve got to do.
“I wouldn’t even judge what their mindset will be but they were just great. We looked at it and thought ‘wow’, as a team we watched it and we were just impressed by the game.
“We’re just approaching it as though its England, we’re playing another footy game, and we’ve got to handle that.”
The last meeting between England and South Africa ended in a one-point victory for the hosts at Twickenham and Proudfoot is expecting another close match this weekend.
“I think it’s going to be very tight between the two sides,” he said. “They were very efficient and powerful against New Zealand. Probably the trendsetters, I think.
“For us to match that intensity, it has been something we’ve spoken about. They’ve been really good and I don’t just think it was brute force, there was a lot of intelligence play, very effective play for their pack.
“I was very impressed with what I saw. So I think it’s going to be a great challenge for us to meet that.”
Proudfoot believes defence coach John Mitchell and forwards coach Steve Borthwick have helped to transform England into a more efficient side under the overall guidance of Eddie Jones.
“Up front I think they’ve got a lot more confidence in what they’re doing,” he said. “I think they just understand what they want to do.
“The time that Eddie has been with them and Neil and Borthwick have worked with them, the more efficient they’ve become up front.