Kolbe set to return for Springboks in Rugby World Cup final

TOKYO (AP) — Cheslin Kolbe is expected to return for South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final against England, adding some extra attacking spark to the Springboks backline.

The flying winger missed the semifinal against Wales last weekend because of an ankle injury, and the South Africans were restricted to one try in a grinding 19-16 win.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said he had a full squad of 31 players available for Saturday's final at Yokohama and was unlikely to make any major changes to the match-day 23, except to consider the recall for Kolbe.

S'bu Nkosi started in place of Kolbe against Wales and had limited opportunities in a contest dominated by set pieces, rucks and kicks in general play.

Kolbe was voted player of the match after scoring two tries in South Africa's group-stage win over Italy, and started in the opening loss to New Zealand and the quarterfinal win over Japan.

Erasmus was asked if he was trying to match England's Australian coach Eddie Jones in pre-final mind games by forecasting his squad so early in the week.

"No. I'm not bluffing," he said Tuesday, saying he'd stick as close as possible to the 23, but "probably with Cheslin coming back into that 23."

"We've got 160 minutes to train — a six-day turnaround," he said. "Not a hell of a lot you can change in six days."

Erasmus has gone for six forwards on the eight-man reserves bench, allowing backup for a big starting scrum that serves as a foundation of the Springboks gameplan.

"We believe that's how we can get the most out of it," Erasmus said. "It is a bit of horses for courses, but we believe it's our fit, form, best available, best combination team."

The South Africans are expecting England to meet fire with fire up front, with Erasmus saying the English took physicality to the "next level" in the way they started the 19-7 semifinal win against the two-time defending champion New Zealand All Blacks.


More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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