South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe expects exciting Rugby World Cup showdown with Japan

Cheslin Kolbe says South Africa will not let their 2015 performance haunt them as they prepare for their World Cup rematch with Japan.

But the winger is aware of the threat posed by the hosts – who have played some thrilling rugby to reach the last eight.

Japan caused arguably the biggest upset in World Cup history four years ago with their ‘Miracle of Brighton’ win over the Springboks.

But it would be much less of a shock if Japan repeat the win in Sunday’s quarter-final in Tokyo, after they topped Pool A with four wins from four matches.

Toulouse winger Kolbe said: “The loss to Japan in 2015, I wouldn’t say that’s stuck in our head.

“We know that it happened but this is four years later.

“We’re playing Japan in the quarter-final so we will make sure we’re really well prepared and won’t have what happened in 2015 in the back of our heads.”

Wingers Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima have been in superb form for Japan – scoring nine tries between them so far.

Neither rank among the giants of the game but, at 5ft 7ins himself, Kolbe knows it is not always size that counts.

“There is a saying that dynamite comes in small packages,” he said.

“I think it all depends on different players. We all have something special to contribute to our various teams.

“Both Japanese wingers are playing really phenomenal rugby.

“I played against Fukuoka at the Rio Olympics. He’s a really good player and is very powerful and explosive.

“I also played against Matsushima back in 2012 when he was playing in the Currie Cup in South Africa. I know he loves to run with the ball and have a lot of freedom.

“What happens on Sunday will come down to the team that wants it the most.

“Japan are playing some really exciting rugby. They are giving the ball a lot of air and they want to stretch your defence structures.

“That is a style I love to play, but as a team we have our own plan that we will try to implement.”

Japan lock Uwe Helu thinks they have nothing to lose on Sunday and have every chance of causing another shock – after more than 60 million people tuned in to watch the hosts beat Scotland and reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

“For me we’ve already made our goal,” said Helu. “No one expected us to make the top eight.

“We’ve already proved everyone wrong. No one will even look at us to win this game this week, so it’s another chance to prove people wrong.

“We love to give everything for our fans, knowing they will always support us.

“We’re still feeling the crowd excitement and support from the last game.

“Just knowing and finding out how many people were watching the game, that is a huge boost.

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