South Africa would be foolish to focus on only one player, but there is little doubt that Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell presents a clear and present danger when the sides meet in their Rugby World Cup Pool B opener in Marseille on Sunday.
The mercurial number 10 has the ability to unlock a tight Springbok defence and South Africa fullback Damian Willemse, along with wings Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse, are part of a back three that will have a busy match guessing Russell’s next move.
“We have prepared really well this week and made plans for what Finn can do. He is a magician and one of the best in the world when it comes to making plays,” Willemse told reporters.
“We just have to ask the boys in front to put a lot of pressure on him to give us a skew kick or open up the opportunity for a charge-down or intercept pass.
“We have done a lot of analysis and when the game comes we will see where we can counter him. He is a great player and we know he can pull anything out of the hat.”
Making sure Russell does not have the time and space to operate will be key and the Bok rush defence is primed for that, but if they get their timing wrong the Scot will be ready to punish them.
“We have to keep our heads up, stay in the game and not give him that amount of time he wants on the ball,” Willemse said.
“We (the back three) have had a good meeting and chat in terms of how we want to play and what we want to do. We are excited for the challenge.”
The Boks may be defending champions, but Willemse knows they will be in a scrap on Sunday.
“It is important to get over each hurdle. We are not looking past anyone, there are tough games coming up. We want to build momentum, then get over the next hurdle and build some more from there.”