Iain Balshaw says England are yet to peak as they prepare to do battle with South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' side dethroned New Zealand with a magnificent performance at International Stadium Yokohama last weekend, setting up a showdown with the Springboks seven days later.

The Red Rose are favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time after dominating the two-time defending champions.

Balshaw, part of the squad for England's only World Cup triumph in Australia 16 years ago, believes there is more to come from the current crop ahead of the biggest game of their lives.

He told Omnisport: "I'm not sure exactly what the average age of the England squad is, but I'd guess around 27, and the majority are coming into their prime.

"We've seen young players like Sam Underhill and Tom Curry come in and be outstanding and they have years ahead of them, they will only get better.

"I think these are such exciting times for English rugby, not only looking at the players who are out in Japan, but also those who did not make the squad and the strength in depth there is.

"There is great talent in the Premiership and academies, the game really is in great shape in England."

Balshaw said England must match the Springboks' physicality and be prepared to mix up their game if they are to emulate the class of 2003.

The jet-heeled former back added: "You've got to meet fire with fire. You have to be prepared for that big first collision and make sure you execute the plans that have been put in place.

"England have done that really well so far, they have been so well drilled and been expansive, but if they need to win playing boring rugby, then so be it. When you get into a final, winning is all that matters."

Phil Vickery says England must come out all guns blazing to prevent South Africa's 'Bomb Squad' from detonating their dreams of lifting the Rugby World Cup.

England are favourites to be crowned champions for a second time in Yokohama on Saturday after dethroning New Zealand with one of the great World Cup performances last weekend.

Eddie Jones' side can expect a massive battle against the ferocious Rugby Championship holders, who have the strength in depth to be able to bring fearsome forwards - christened the 'Bomb Squad' - off the bench.

Vickery, a World Cup winner 16 years ago before captaining his country in a defeat to South Africa in the 2007 final, warned England must use their full artillery and execute plans to perfection to ensure it is mission accomplished.

The former skipper told Omnisport: "South Africa are not going to do anything that England won't be expecting from them. They are going to be ultra-physical and confrontational, it's going to be a massive battle. 

"England are capable of winning that battle, no doubt about it, but if you'd have given me £100 before the tournament to back a winner, I would have put it on South Africa. It can't really come as a surprise they are in the final, they are the champions of the Southern Hemisphere. 

"Yes, they may not be playing spectacular rugby, but they are playing winning rugby and that is all that matters in a World Cup.

"England have the firepower, we have seen that in their incredible win over the All Blacks, but so do South Africa.

"We have to take them on physically, there is no avoiding that, but it is important we move them around and try to break the game up. Opportunities will come if they can do that and keep their discipline. 

"If England can go out and play with the same intensity they did against the All Blacks, that will be hard for any team to live with."

Vickery believes England's big-game experience should ensure they can handle the pressure and the former prop urged them to grasp an opportunity that can change their lives forever.

"There are guys who have played in Grand Slam deciders, a Lions Test series, European finals, et cetera. They know all about how to handle the big occasion." he added.

"The lovely thing they have ahead of them is a life-changing opportunity. Their names can be forever etched in history if they can win on Saturday. 

"They will have millions of people who are with them for every collision, every lineout, every scrum - looking back, it's amazing to think you are involved in something like that and I'm excited for them."

Warren Gatland said it would break his heart if Wales go "back into the doldrums" after his long reign ended with a 40-17 defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

Gatland will return to his native New Zealand to take charge of the Chiefs after spending 12 years as head coach of the Six Nations Grand Slam champions.

But it was the All Blacks who gave their own outgoing head coach, Steve Hansen, a victory in his final match at the helm in the third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Gatland departs as Wales' greatest coach, and the British and Irish Lions boss is desperate for his replacement Wayne Pivac to be successful in a new era.

Asked about his emotions during his Wales swansong, Gatland said: "It's something I'd prepared myself for and then you start thinking about the next challenges in life.

"I really hope, for what we have achieved in the last 10 or 12 years, we have earned respect and put some respect back into Wales as an international team and the new coaches come in and continue to build on that.

"Because I think, [with] what we've achieved, it would break my heart if Wales went back into the doldrums."

He added: "There is an opportunity for the new group to come in and build on what we've created and improve on that.

"You know how tough it is to win a Six Nations. It's not to be greedy and expect to win it every year, but it's going and performing well in the Six Nations and continuing to get a few Six Nations titles along the way and make sure we are as competitive as we can be against the other top nations.

"I think we have been, and I want Wales to continue to build on that."

Gatland felt the challenge of facing the All Blacks just five days after a semi-final loss to South Africa was a lot to ask for his injury-hit squad.

"It was obvious to me, just watching the first half, that five-day turnaround after having played South Africa - and losing four players in that game - some players definitely struggled with the quick turnaround." said the 56-year-old.

"But I thought the bench gave us impetus when they came on, it was good and I'm pleased with that. But no complaints about the result, I thought the All Blacks deserved to win."

Steve Hansen was left to rue "one bad day" but expressed his pride after his New Zealand reign ended with a 40-17 drubbing of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze final.

The All Blacks scored six tries in an entertaining third-place play-off at Tokyo Stadium on Friday after a week of licking their wounds following a semi-final defeat to England.

Ben Smith claimed a first-half double and had another try ruled out in his final Test, while Ryan Crotty likewise touched down in his New Zealand swansong.

Captain Kieran Read was also among several All Blacks playing their last internationals at the end of Hansen's glorious reign, and the head coach was impressed with the character shown by his side six days after they were dethroned.

"It was just important we came back and honoured the jersey and our fans and get over the disappointment of last week." said Hansen, who has spent 15 years on the New Zealand coaching staff.

"It was a tough old game for both sides and I want to congratulate Wales because they'll be feeling a little bad at the moment.

"All tournament, we've had great defence and played pretty good footy all the way through. One bad day, you lose a game and you miss out, that is what knockout football is about. But I'm really proud of the boys today."

Man of the match Brodie Retallick said the two-time defending champions were desperate to sign off by showing what they are capable of.

"After last week, we wanted to come back and put on a performance we could be proud of and, for all of our supporters, we're thankful to come out with the win." said the lock.

"We had to use that as motivation to come and do what we did tonight. It took a great effort and I'm really proud of what we did tonight."

Ben Smith marked his swansong with a double as New Zealand ended the Steve Hansen era by hammering Wales 40-17 in an entertaining Rugby World Cup third-place play-off.

The All Blacks had been licking their wounds since England shattered their bid to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third successive time last weekend and responded like champions at Tokyo Stadium on Friday.

Smith, recalled for one final Test before joining Top 14 side Pau, touched down twice in a frantic first half following scores from Joe Moody and Beauden Barrett as the All Blacks turned on the style.

Ryan Crotty, also donning the famous jersey for the last time along with legendary captain Kieran Read, crossed following the interval after the lively Smith had a third ruled out.

Richie Mo'unga claimed New Zealand's sixth try of the night late on to take his points tally to 13 and Read was inspirational in his farewell Test as the two-time defending champions fittingly finished Hansen's glorious reign with a victory

Hallam Amos crossed in the first half and Josh Adams took his tournament-leading try-scoring tally to seven, but the clinical All Blacks sealed a 31rd win in a row over injury-hit Wales in Warren Gatland's last game in charge.

The holders had no answer to a blistering start from England last weekend, but they began on the front foot six days later and Moody took a one-handed pass from a charging Brodie Retallick to go over five minutes in.

Barrett sprinted under the posts all too easily after Aaron Smith's no-look pass left a sluggish Wales defence flat-footed and Mo'unga ​– who missed an early penalty – converted for the second time.

Wales clicked into a gear and Amos showed a sharp turn of foot to finish superbly after a sustained spell of pressure and a Rhys Patchell penalty reduced the deficit to four points.

The Grand Slam winners continued to look vulnerable at the other end, though, and Ben Smith burst down the middle and somehow evaded three tackles and dot down.

The 33-year-old flyer finished clinically again on the stroke of half-time after taking an exceptional whipped pass from his mercurial namesake Aaron, Mo'unga adding the extras expertly from the touchline.

Sonny Bill Williams, also playing what is expected to be his last match for his country, set up the onrushing Crotty for a fifth All Blacks try after Ben Smith was denied a hat-trick due to a knock-on.

The lively Adams dived over from close range at the other end after captain Alun Wyn Jones came off to a standing ovation in what is almost certainly his final World Cup appearance.

New Zealand were not at their fluent best in the second half, but Mo'unga had the final say by crashing over four minutes from time to round off an emphatic win.

The Rugby World Cup final is upon us. England and South Africa will face off in Yokohama on Saturday, with the winner lifting the Webb Ellis Cup.

Both sides have enjoyed fantastic runs to this stage, with England winning every match they have played at the finals and dominating two-time defending champions New Zealand in the last four.

The Springboks were beaten by the All Blacks in their opening match but have recovered in impressive fashion, closing on a third title.

With the help of Opta data, we look at the key numbers ahead of what promises to be an enthralling final between two worthy winners.
 

2 - England have won back-to-back Tests against South Africa, but their record against the Springboks had previously been nothing to shout about. They managed just one victory in their prior 15 meetings.

33 - Eddie Jones' team will need to be at it from the off on Saturday. South Africa having gone on to win 33 of their 35 World Cup matches in which they have led at the break.

89 - Owen Farrell needs just 11 points to become the second player to reach 100 World Cup points for England after Jonny Wilkinson, who accumulated 277.

0 - South Africa won the previous two World Cup finals they appeared in, but both victories came without either side scoring a try.

1 - If England beat Rassie Erasmus' side, they will become the first team to beat Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in a single World Cup campaign.

407 - Springbok Damian de Allende is one of only three players to have played more minutes at this tournament than England duo Elliot Daly and Tom Curry, who have each clocked up 400.

3 - The sides have previously met four times in the World Cup, with South Africa coming out on top in three of those matches. Their most recent World Cup meeting came in the 2007 final, which the Springboks won 15-6.

140 - Handre Pollard has scored more points at a World Cup than any other South Africa player, although he is yet to score a try in the competition.

50 - Siya Kolisi is set to earn his 50th Test cap and his 20th as Springboks captain.

98 - South Africa have the best lineout success rate of any side at this World Cup, having only lost one, which came in their semi-final win over Wales.

4 - This will be England's fourth appearance in the final, a joint record alongside Australia and the All Blacks.

27 - Jonny May needs one more try to equal Jason Robinson on 28 for England, the joint-fifth most for England. He has four in six appearances against the Springboks.

South Africa stand on the brink of making history when they face England in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks have already lifted one trophy this year after winning the Rugby Championship in August, and Rassie Erasmus' team are looking to do something that has eluded rivals New Zealand and Australia in the past.

In the previous five years when there has been both a Rugby Championship – or its previous incarnation the Tri Nations – and a World Cup, the winners of the first tournament have subsequently failed to also deliver success on the global stage.

With South Africa in a position to finally end that sequence, we take a look at those who have previously conquered the Southern Hemisphere only to fall short at the World Cup.

 

1999: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA

The All Blacks won the first two Tri Nations and made it three in four years by thrashing South Africa 28-0, beating Australia 34-15 and claiming another victory over the Springboks.

However, a 28-7 loss to the Wallabies in the final fixture suggested New Zealand were not so invincible...

At the World Cup, the great Jonah Lomu scored eight tries yet France stunned New Zealand 43-31 in the last four, with Australia then winning the final against Les Bleus.

2003: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – ENGLAND

Four wins out of four delivered another Tri Nations triumph for New Zealand.

The All Blacks scored 282 points in their four World Cup pool games in Australia too before easing past South Africa 29-9 in the quarter-finals.

But Elton Flatley's accuracy from the tee consigned New Zealand to another semi-final loss and sent Australia back to the final, where Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal in Sydney delivered a famous success for England.

2007: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND, WORLD CUP WINNERS – SOUTH AFRICA

Neither Australia nor South Africa could deny the All Blacks another Tri Nations title in 2007, though it was a Northern Hemisphere nation who would stop their run at the World Cup.

New Zealand led 13-3 in the first half of their quarter-final against France only to suffer another knockout loss to their World Cup nemesis as Yannick Jauzion scored a brilliant converted try 11 minutes from time to seal a 20-18 success.

Defending champions England beat France in the semi-final but Percy Montgomery won the battle of the boots with Wilkinson in the final as South Africa secured their second World Cup.

2011: TRI NATIONS WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

In the final Tri Nations before Argentina joined to form the Rugby Championship, Graham Henry's team lost their last two matches as Australia triumphed for the first time in a decade.

The World Cup was hosted in New Zealand and after years of being the nearly men, it was the All Blacks' turn to taste global glory again.

France were their final opponents and, in a tense, low-scoring contest, New Zealand won 8-7.

2015: RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS – AUSTRALIA, WORLD CUP WINNERS – NEW ZEALAND

Four years ago, Australia beat the other three nations to win the Rugby Championship, and came out on top of a World Cup pool that included Wales and hosts England.

The Wallabies narrowly saw off Scotland 35-34 and ousted Argentina 29-15 to set up a final with a New Zealand side that had hammered France 62-13 in the last eight.

No team had ever retained the World Cup before but Dan Carter shone on his international farewell to ensure Steve Hansen's side lifted the Webb Ellis Cup again.

Rassie Erasmus will not continue as South Africa coach after the Rugby World Cup final showdown with England, he has confirmed.

The Springboks - who are hunting their third world title - face Eddie Jones' side in Yokohama on Saturday, after respective semi-final victories over Wales and New Zealand.

Erasmus has been working in the dual role of coach and director of rugby since early 2018, but he suggested in December last year he would step down from the former position following the World Cup.

Despite overseeing a hugely successful year in which South Africa won the Rugby Championship and reached the World Cup final in Japan, Erasmus' stance on his future has not altered.

The 47-year-old is set to continue in his directorial post, however.

"It's probably my last Test match. It is my last Test match of being head coach," Erasmus told reporters on Thursday. "It's an emotional one. I didn't think 25 Tests would go that quickly.

"When I came back from Munster, I thought it would be more about focusing on my family as well as thinking more strategically in terms of helping the schoolboys, helping the sevens, and helping the Bok coach.

"When you become the Bok coach, you become more hands-on, your adrenaline starts pumping and you really become part of it. It's wonderful to be here. It's sad that there are only three days and then it's all over."

Erasmus says his time as coach has given him greater optimism for rugby in South Africa going forwards, as the Springboks bid to become the first team to do the Rugby Championship-World Cup double.

"I will still be heavily involved whatever way we go in terms of the next Bok coach. I must say, just being the coach gave me such hope again for South African rugby," he added.

"Two years ago, everybody was talking about this hope thing, but I was like, 'Let's just focus on the rugby'. I've changed my mind. If we play with passion and people see it, it can help them forget about their problems.

"We have to use this platform. No matter what happens on Saturday, we have to use what we've built to take us forward in the next six or seven years.

"The only failure would be not pitching up and giving it absolutely everything. We said that when we win, people will start supporting us again, talking about us again, helping us with team selections and so on.

"We want that criticism. That's when you know South Africans care again. We knew it would be a process and that we would have to take some risks along the road to get where we wanted to go. We knew that the expectations would grow."

Eddie Jones says England cannot give South Africa the opportunity to play their own game if his side are to triumph in the Rugby World Cup final.

England put in a dominant performance against two-time defending champions New Zealand in the semi-finals, claiming a 19-7 win in Yokohama and progressing to their first World Cup final since 2007.

South Africa were their opponents on that occasion, too, with the Springboks coming out on top 15-6 in Paris.

Rassie Erasmus' South Africa defeated Wales to tee up Saturday's rematch and, while their victory was less convincing than England's against the All Blacks, Jones sees no room for complacency.

The England coach wants his team to seize the initiative early again, having scored with a Manu Tuilagi try after just two minutes to stun New Zealand.

"We just want to go out there and play," Jones told a news conference. "The great thing for us is that we have done the preparation, we know we have done the preparation and we are ready for this occasion.

"We have spent four years getting ready for this occasion. That is why the players can be relaxed, that is why I can be relaxed, because we know we have done the work. We are not relaxed about knowing what is in front of us.

"We know South Africa are going to come hard. They have got a history of being the most physically intimidating team in the world, so we have got to take that away from them.

"The boys know what is ahead of them, everyone knows what is at stake, but because we have had such a good preparation, we can go out there and play without any fear.

"We have got to go out there and make the game, we've got to take the game to South Africa. We can't afford to go in the game and expect South Africa to give us a game.

"So our whole mindset this week is about taking the game to South Africa, playing with no fear, where can we take our game to, what level can we take our game to."

Mako Vunipola will start alongside his brother Billy in an unchanged side for England, and the prop is relishing his chance on the biggest stage.

"I didn't dream of it, not many people get the opportunity to play in a World Cup final," he told Sky Sports.

"Me and Billy are very fortunate we get to share it, with our whole family here as well. Once we get out there, it's just another game. We've got to go out there and do our bit for the team and keep it simple.

"[The team] have spent a long time together now and there's a bond and belief running through the team. We're very confident of what we have in the group but very aware of the challenge ahead."

Rugby World Cup finalists England and South Africa have been joined by New Zealand, Wales and Japan in World Rugby's Team of the Year nominations for 2019.

All four teams who reached the semi-finals of the showpiece tournament in Japan have been rewarded for their efforts, with the respective coaches also up for the Coach of the Year award.

Eddie Jones, Rassie Erasmus, Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland are on the list, along with Jamie Joseph, who guided Japan to their first-ever World Cup knockout stage.

The hosts were eventually defeated by South Africa, with Erasmus then guiding Rugby Championship winners the Springboks to a 19-16 win over Wales, who won the Six Nations Grand Slam under outgoing coach Gatland.

New Zealand and Hansen are both in the running, despite the All Blacks seeing their long reigns both at the top of the rankings and as world champions ended.

Ireland dominated the 2018 awards, winning the Team of the Year accolade as coach Joe Schmidt and player Johnny Sexton were recognised for their individual efforts.

Their failure to advance beyond the World Cup quarter-finals, beaten by New Zealand, means neither the team nor Schmidt are nominated this time.

The 2019 Player of the Year nominations are still to be announced, before the awards are handed out in Tokyo on Sunday.

Earlier in the week, World Rugby announced Joe Cokanasiga (England), Herschel Jantjies (South Africa) and Romain Ntamack (France) are up for the Breakthrough Player of the Year gong.

Rugby World Cup scores from Charles Ollivon (France), TJ Perenara (New Zealand) and Cobus Reinach (South Africa) are bidding alongside Italy captain Sergio Parisse's Test effort for the Try of the Year.

When Rassie Erasmus took over as South Africa head coach just a year and a half before the Rugby World Cup, the former Springbok knew he had taken on a "huge task".

Erasmus already had more than enough on his plate as South Africa's director of rugby, a role with a wide-ranging remit.

The 47-year-old was still getting his feet under the table in that job when Allister Coetzee's turbulent reign as head coach was brought to an end in February 2018.

Erasmus agreed to the challenge of turning around the fortunes of a Springboks side who had won only 11 of Coetzee's 25 games in charge and dropped to sixth in the world rankings.

"It is a huge task to coach the Springboks and I am very privileged," Erasmus said.

"I really believe we have the players and the rugby IP [intellectual property] to turn things around and to mount a serious challenge at next year's Rugby World Cup."

Even the most optimistic fans of the Springboks might have raised eyebrows over such positive comments from the new head coach.

Yet the potential was there to see in a 2-1 home Test series defeat of England, led by Siya Kolisi after he was named as South Africa's first black captain.

A shock defeat of New Zealand followed last September and South Africa dethroned the All Blacks to win the Rugby Championship just a month before facing Steve Hansen's side in their first match of the World Cup.

Although Steve Hansen's two-time defending champions won that World Cup opener at International Stadium Yokohama almost six weeks ago, it is the Springboks who will contest the final with England at the same venue on Saturday.

Cheslin Kolbe has established himself as one of the most lethal wings in the world after being handed a debut last September, while Faf de Klerk is among the recalled players to have thrived under Erasmus after the 30-cap eligibility rule for overseas-based stars was scrapped.

Erasmus has turned South Africa into an uncompromising, well-drilled side, possessing relentless and brutal physicality, with explosive backs and busy scrum-half De Klerk pulling the strings.

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi said: "Rassie has made a massive difference. That difference has not just been to the South Africa team because his decisions have affected the whole nation.

"He is a coach who has an honest opinion about every player and he is not someone who does things behind closed doors but does it openly and everyone knows about it.

"Players have respect for someone who is honest and open and says what he is looking for. It gives you more freedom to go out there and express yourself. He does not put you in a box and that has been one of his outstanding features."

Erasmus will relinquish his head coach duties after the showdown with England this weekend and, regardless of the outcome, he has lifted the gloom and made a proud rugby nation a major force once again.

Sean Fitzpatrick says he feels sorry for Kieran Read as he prepares to end his New Zealand career in a bronze match rather than chasing a third straight Rugby World Cup title.

All Blacks captain Read looked to be leading his side towards another World Cup triumph until the two-time defending champions met a determined England outfit in the semi-finals.

New Zealand were beaten comfortably by Eddie Jones' inspired team and Read, who previously announced his decision to retire after the tournament, is now bowing out against Wales in a third-place play-off.

Former All Black Fitzpatrick wished the 34-year-old had been able to enjoy a more fitting send-off but insisted he could still only be considered a true great.

"He's been an outstanding All Black captain, a phenomenal player, one of the great number eights in world rugby for many, many years," Fitzpatrick said, speaking courtesy of Laureus.

"He's had a long career. It's his third World Cup. I feel sorry for him that he finished on that note, but he's got another opportunity hopefully this week against Wales.

"He's one of the greats. He loves the All Black jersey and plays with a real passion. I wish him well with whatever he does. He'll go down as one of our great All Blacks."

Coach Steve Hansen will also depart after Friday's meeting with Wales, but Fitzpatrick hopes his staff - including assistant and potential replacement Ian Foster - will not pay the price for the England defeat.

Fitzpatrick believes coaches such as Foster have proven their worth regardless of a one-off loss.

"They'll go through a process [to appoint a coach]," Fitzpatrick said. "They've got people in line obviously already - I'd imagine they've done quite a bit of work on that.

"I don't think the game on Saturday would be a defining factor in saying, if it was going to be [an appointment] from within, we must change that. I don't agree with that.

"Because this group of coaches that are staying on after Hansen goes have done a brilliant job. I'm so proud as a past All Black. The past four-year cycle, they couldn't have done any more.

"They just came up against a team that dominated. I don't think that should have a real bearing on who the next All Blacks coach is."

Fitzpatrick now hopes the pain of losing to England can serve New Zealand well going forward.

"Everyone in that team hasn't experienced that feeling, so it's a big change," he added. "They'll learn from that.

"With how commanding the defeat was to England, although it's not easy to accept, they were better than us. We've got to take it on the chin and move on. We were outplayed and they [the players] know that.

"The way we did it yesterday is not enough to win tomorrow - that's been our philosophy all the way along as All Blacks. Prepare as if you're number two, never think you're good enough. At the moment, we're not number one."

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has described England's costly response to the Haka as "brilliant and quite imaginative".

England fronted up to the All Blacks' pre-match ritual at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday by forming a V shape before dethroning the two-time defending champions with a dominant 19-7 semi-final victory.

Joe Marler was among the England players warned to retreat after crossing the halfway line during the Haka.

World Rugby has fined England a reported £2,000 for overstepping the mark, and Hansen was quick to point out the sanction was due to a breach of tournament regulations rather than showing a lack of respect.

"They didn't get fined for responding to the Haka - they got fined for coming over halfway," Hanson said.

"Joe [Marler] didn't go back when he was told two or three times. The Haka requires a response. It's a challenge to you, personally, and it requires a response.

"I thought it was brilliant and quite imaginative, too."

England lock Courtney Lawes said Eddie Jones' side felt it was important to show they were ready for the battle.

"Yes, we wanted to be respectful, but we wanted to show that we weren't just going to sit there and take whatever they had," said Lawes.

"We wanted to show we were just as up for the game, and we thought it was a good way of doing that. We didn't go there to cause any disrespect. We just wanted to show that we were up for the challenge.

"They certainly seemed, as we started moving towards them, they accepted the challenge. I thought it was good."

Dane Coles has reiterated he intends to remain a part of the New Zealand squad despite the imminent changing of the guard following the Rugby World Cup.

A number of All Blacks players and coach Steve Hansen will depart following Friday's bronze final against Wales, having fallen short in their bid for a third consecutive title.

But Coles, who signed a new contract until 2021 in January, does not plan to add his name to that list in the aftermath of a chastening semi-final defeat to England.

The 68-cap hooker is now determined to work hard to prove he deserves to remain in the group.

"I'd love to be in the All Blacks next year. I love playing for this team," Coles said.

"I still have a desire to pull on that black jersey and represent my country, so there will be a strong desire to work hard next year and get back to this team because I love it and care about it."

Coles acknowledges the reverse at the hands of England will not be quickly forgotten, but he hopes the younger members of the team can use the setback as motivation.

"It's always going to be there, but it's important we learn from adversity," he said. "There's a lot of young guys who, hopefully, take a hell of a lot out of it.

"This is going to be one that hangs around. We just have to use it in the right way."

Former New Zealand star Sean Fitzpatrick believes South Africa will need "the game of their lives" to beat England in the Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks defeated Wales to book their place in Saturday's showpiece where they will play a rematch of the 2007 final.

This match comes after England sensationally upset the All Blacks, who were two-time defending champions, the world's top-ranked side and tournament favourites.

Fitzpatrick, who watched that stunning All Blacks loss at close quarters, claims a South Africa victory would be similar in magnitude to England's win, having been hugely impressed by the squad Eddie Jones has built.

"[Jones] is a wily old character and he's got huge experience. He'll be doing everything he can," Fitzpatrick said, speaking courtesy of Laureus. "He's had a four-year plan, he's developed a squad that's very deep and a squad that will want to win the World Cup.

"I said last week, it's going to take a heck of a performance to beat the All Blacks but, if they do, they'd deserve to be there.

"This week, the roles are reversed. If South Africa beat England, they are going to have to play the game of their lives. I just can't see England losing at the moment."

If the Springboks are to triumph, 1987 World Cup winner Fitzpatrick suggests England would need to turn in an error-strewn performance, having previously profited from the All Blacks' mistakes.

"It'll be the team that makes the least mistakes," he said. "We saw an All Blacks team that made more mistakes on Saturday than they had in their previous games.

"If you make mistakes, the opposition at this level are teams that are capable of capitalising on those mistakes.

"They both have got a burning desire to win the World Cup but, for me, it's literally as easy as that. You make the least mistakes and you'll win."

While impressed by England, Fitzpatrick is now intrigued to see how they now handle playing as favourites, having also moved to the top of the rankings.

The 92-cap international said: "The biggest thing for me this Saturday is to see how England react to the pressure of being favourites, being number one in the world, up against a team not a lot of people think can beat them."

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