South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has hailed Wales head coach Warren Gatland as a “legend” ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown on Sunday.
Gatland masterminded a Grand Slam triumph in the final Six Nations campaign of his tenure this year and stands on the brink of leading Wales into a first World Cup final.
Erasmus hailed the New Zealander, who will end his long reign after the tournament in Japan, as he prepares to pit his wits against the wily British and Irish Lions coach in Yokohama this weekend.
“Warren is an absolute legend of the game. You very seldom see him in a mouth fight and mudslinging before Test matches,” said Erasmus.
“I’ve never been there having to reply to something he says, and he doesn’t bite at you to create unnecessary nonsense before a Test match, so I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a person.
“His results on the field speak for themselves, with the Welsh team and the British and Irish Lions.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 24, 2019
Erasmus made one enforced change to his side following an emphatic win over Japan, Sbu Nkosi replacing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle).
Gatland will be hoping Jonathan Davies is available to return after missing the quarter-final win over France with a knee injury, but Erasmus says they have enough quality to cope without the centre.
“They’ve almost got a southern hemisphere backline in terms of size.” Erasmus said of the Six Nations champions.
“I know [Dan] Biggar is maybe not as big as other guys, but definitely busy. Hadleigh Parkes is a big guy, Davies is a physical guy. I think he was backline player of the tour in New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions.
“You’ve got [George] North, who is a big boy, and Liam Williams, who was always outstanding and physical. So, if they lose him [Davies], they will definitely lose a guy who is intimidating, who’s got soft skills, experience.
“But then again, they’ve still got Liam there, Biggar, good guys off the bench, still got [Leigh] Halfpenny there.
“They’ve got a great pack of forwards, but their backline is a big threat. If they do lose him, they will lose somebody like we’ve lost Cheslin, but hell, they’ve got some great other players as well.”
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta