Peak fitness the goal for Springboks at Rugby World Cup

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The Springboks' head of athletic performance, Andy Edwards, who joined the side in 2020 after they won the 2019 World Cup in Japan, told TimesLive they were set to peak on time for the tournament.

He backed comments made by South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus that the Springboks are much better prepared than they were in 2019.

Edwards said, "We are now more aligned as a group and that's going to hold us in good stead."

Experiences since the 2019 event have galvanised the side. They included the bio-bubble they played in during the 2021 series against the British & Irish Lions and the long away leg in the Rugby Championship that year.

"We have overcome all those challenges as a collective, and I believe it should make us more settled going into big tournaments."

They were ranked only fourth favourites for the French event, but Edwards said the players knew they would have targets on their backs as defending champions.

"The group is aware of it; it's nothing we won't be able to handle or be unprepared for. It also knowing when to push performance and when to pull back a little so you can peak at the right time."

At the same time, he said other sides could win the tournament.

"You have got Ireland, the reigning Grand Slam champions and ranked No1 in the world. Everyone is also talking about France in France, and weirdly, New Zealand is seen by some as the underdogs.

"As the Springboks, we are comfortable with where we are and can take confidence from being settled as a group. Not settled in a comfortable way, but to keep pushing.

"It's a healthy group that continues to show they can operate at the highest level and keep performing on the international stage.


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