The Saturday clash between South Africa and New Zealand in the 2019 Rugby World Cup is expected to be a tight battle to the end, between the two forwards pack.

The gap between the Springboks and the defending World Cup champions has closed in recent years and there’s a genuine belief in the Springbok camp that the All Blacks can be beaten in Yokohama.

For the majority of this Springbok squad playing in the green and gold, in a World Cup facing off against the mighty All Blacks in the opening fixture, is a dream come true.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said this moment has been years in the making and his charges are fully aware of what’s at stake.

Kolisi says, “I don’t think I need to speak at all, we have all worked hard for this moment since we were young and that is all we ever wanted to do. Some of us never dreamt of being at the World Cup and now it is happening. So, I really don’t have to say anything to the team, the guys know the opposition we are playing as well, nobody needs to motivate you.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen picked two fetchers in Ardie Savea and Sam Cane for this Pool B clash – suggesting that the tackle area will be a key battleground in a game expected to be largely a forwards contest.

“I know how good they are, we have played against them. I think me and Sam Cane were in the under-20s so I have seen him… we chat and learn a few things from each other,” says Kolisi.

Kick-off in Yokohama is just before midday South African time.