Former Bok André Joubert predicts a Wales-New Zealand final

2011-10-14 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Former Springbok and Sharks fullback André Joubert, a Rugby World Cup winner with South Africa in 1995, shares the disappointment of his fellow countrymen at the Boks’ quarter-final exit in New Zealand, but is still excited about the rugby to come, and the final between the two sides he predicts will come through this weekend — Wales and the All Blacks.

Joubert said, “It’s obviously sad to go out when you’ve had so much possession and territory, and have outplayed the opposition.

“But I still think the Boks surprised a few people with how well they actually played. This was definitely a team that could have gone on to win the tournament, and I think the All Blacks will be happier facing Australia in the semi-final after seeing that performance.”

It’s the forwards where Joubert feels the Wallabies will struggle against the host nation on Sunday.

“The Wallabies have great backs, but the game starts with what happens up front, and against South Africa their scrum and line-out were under pressure. I get the feeling that the Wallabies can only score tries from broken play, and New Zealand won’t give them the space to do that.”

The Wallabies will certainly make every effort to counter Joubert’s belief, and they’ll also know they face a side under pressure from home supporters — something the former fullback can identify with.

He said, “In 1995 we had the same pressure, but it can motivate you.

“It’s also a 15-man game. In an individual sport you’re more susceptible to pressure, with a team game, you have players on either side to help you and relieve the pressure.

“Even with the loss of Carter, they’re looking dangerous, and you saw in the last 15 minutes against Argentina what they can really do.”

Support for the All Blacks from Joubert, then, but he’s well aware of the dangers the Wallabies pose, particularly from the man in his old jersey.

Joubert said, “Kurtley Beale has been the pick of the fullbacks at the World Cup for me.

“He gets involved, he pounces on opportunity, and we saw what he did in the first 20 minutes against South Africa, where he was outstanding.

“I also like the look of Israel Dagg, although he hasn’t played any of the big teams yet,” he said, before endorsing the credentials of the young man in South Africa’s number 15 jersey.

“Pat Lambie has impressed me. It’s nice to see a South African fullback not standing back, but getting involved, coming into second and third phase play, acting as another flyhalf when needed.

“He has the basic skills, he’s accurate, he’s a good decision maker. He can obviously play flyhalf as well, but I like what I see of him at fullback.”

Joubert has also been cheered by the improvement of some of the smaller sides, who’ve looked technically better at the tournament, but he fears for their future.

“It’s great to see the smaller teams do well,” he agreed, “and they are catching up. But the game is getting so much harder, so much faster, it means more injuries, and for the smaller teams with a limited pool of players, dealing with those injuries is very difficult.”

The issue of developing a broader rugby base around the world is one the game continues to address, but for now the focus is on the World Cup and the weekend’s two semi-finals, with the second of those particularly appealing to Joubert.

“I like the way the Welsh have played, and in particular, the way the handled the defeat against the Boks, and came back from it.

“They beat Samoa and Fiji under huge pressure, and showed enormous character in doing so.

“They then managed it again against Ireland, and they’re playing together as a team, with confidence.

So, a New Zealand-Wales final to decide the mantle of World Champions? “Definitely,” Joubert said.

“I think New Zealand will actually win quite comfortably based on the forward battle, and I expect to see Wales win as well. Which will set us up for a great final.”

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