RWC 2019: The head-to-head player ratings ahead of England v South Africa showdown

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England will face South Africa in the World Cup final at the International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

Here we rate both sets of teams – on current form – ahead of the decider.

Willie Le Roux: A gifted player but playing well below his standards at this World Cup. The 30-year-old was vulnerable under the high ball against Wales and failed to provide an attack threat. Solid defensively but leaves much of the counter-attack responsibility in the hands of his wingers. 6.5

Cheslin Kolbe: The livewire winger is set to be restored to the starting line up for the final after recovering from an ankle injury. His searing pace, strong defence and accuracy under the high ball is crucial to the Boks’ attack. A class player to watch. 8.5

Lukhanyo Am: Solid in defence, the 25-year-old links well with De Allende but has been unable to add a fresh cutting edge to the attack. Will need to be at his stellar best to contain the influence of Farrell and Tuilagi. 7

Damian De Allende: England will be wary of his power. He puts in some crushing hits, turns over ball at critical moments and makes powerful carries. Easily the pick of the Springboks backs after his fine displays against Japan and Wales. 9

Makazole Mapimpi: Was the star of the show against Japan, racking up 118 metres and two tries over the 80 minutes. Opportunities were limited against Wales but his speed with ball in hand could cause problems in the final. His defence and security in the air is vulnerable. 8

Handre Pollard: Produced his best performance versus Wales, kicking 11 points, including the winning score. Makes everything tick for South Africa; from his kicking, crisp passing, decision-making and the way he orchestrates his back line. 8

Faf De Klerk: Has the ability to disrupt England’s attacking play with his speed off the line. Has the consistent passing, kicking and defensive game to trouble any opposition. 8.5

Tendai Mtawarira: Dominates his opponent at scrum time and can cause a few headaches with his bone-crunching tackles in open play. Needs to keep his discipline or risks being outclassed by England’s superior frontrow. 7.5

Mbongeni Mbonambi: Excellent in the set-pieces and mauls. Is the clear weak link in the pack but if he can empty the tank for 50 minutes, then Malcolm Marx can come in and add some extra ballast. 7.5

Frans Malherbe: A bull of a prop who was at the heart of South Africa’s commanding pack display against Wales. Needs to improve in other areas of the field or he’ll risk being punished against the Red Rose. 7.5

Eben Etzebeth: The soaring East Cape man has all the skills in his armoury to inspire Erasmus’s side to glory. Can disrupt the opposition set piece and his aggressive nature around ruck and tackle time is major fillip. Needs a big final. 8

Lood De Jager: Has enjoyed an impressive tournament to date. May be overshadowed by the giant beside him, but still produces a strong shift no matter who the opposition are. A tower of strength. 8

Siya Kolisi: The captain puts in a typical leader’s performance with his tackles and carries. Should hold his head high, in win or defeat, with the way he has carried himself on and off the pitch in Japan. 7.5

Pieter-Steph Du Toit: His huge physicality (6’6 and 120kg) is a menace to any opposition and – coupled with his workrate – he is an outstanding footballer with a high skill level. Has to believe he can get the upper hand on Underhill and Curry. 8

Duane Vermeulen: The No8 has performed effectively against the All Blacks, Japan and Wales. Rides his luck at times, but is a vital cog in set piece and maul time. His powerful carries have a massive impact on the team’s defence. 7.5

Replacements: South Africa boast so much power on the bench from Steven Kitschoff, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Frans Steyn, Francois Louw and Vincent Koch and they will need to use it to good effect. 8

TOTAL: 125

ENGLAND

Elliot Daly: Marshals the back field and lets no one through. Joins the line well but there is not enough of his crafty attacking play. Made a lovely break for Tuilagi’s try in the semi-final. 7.5/10

Anthony Watson: His footwork and security under the high ball was sublime versus the All Blacks. Looks bright in space and is dangerous in attack. 8

Manu Tuilagi: Looks reborn on the big stage. His powerful carrying and iron-like defending was key against New Zealand. Fantastic to see him play in a World Cup final after his injury troubles. 8

Owen Farrell: Played half the semi-final on one leg and still finished as joint-top tackler (16). The captain is an inspirational presence, offering plenty on both sides of the ball. A tremendous leader. 9

Jonny May: His elusive footwork would hurt any team and has been a sterling presence throughout the competition so far with three tries. Impresses defensively and aerially too. 8

George Ford: Justified his recall with a typically composed yet commanding display. Looks like nothing phases him and kicks well under pressure. One of England’s stars of the competition. 8.5

Ben Youngs: Struggled with the tempo in some of the games but he’s gradually improving as each match progresses, which bodes well for the final. A player the Red Rose cannot afford to lose. 7.5

Mako Vunipola: Made a staggering 16 carries against the All Blacks and made a significant impact in the scrum. Will be crucial against the Springboks. 8

Jamie George: Industrious in the loose, the 29-year-old contributes well to England’s continuity. Can raise his game when the temperature is at its highest. His throwing is also on point. 8

Kyle Sinckler: The Tooting native may have a mistake in his armoury now and again, but knows how to win key scrums and turnovers. Best tighthead in the world? 9

Maro Itoje: Best player on the pitch against the All Blacks. Imposes himself on opponents and looks hungry for work at all times. A disruptive line-out presence, Itoje needs to be at his immaculate best against Etzebeth and Co. 9

Courtney Lawes: A faultless operator on his own ball and an absolute menace on his opponents’ possession. He’ll wade through mauls and always empties the tank. 8

Tom Curry: The Kamikaze kid could be named player of the tournament if England win on Saturday. Makes a mountain of tackles and gets through a barrel of work. An unbelievable player. 9

Sam Underhill: Like his backrow partner Curry, the imposing Underhill puts in crunching hits and consistently gives 100 per cent. Whenever opposition teams gather momentum, he produces a tackle to give his side a boost. 9

Billy Vunipola: Produced his best display of the tournament against New Zealand, with 17 carries and 12 tackles. The attention he receives from opponents is pivotal to creating space for others. Will be at full blast on Saturday. 8

Replacements: George Kruis, Henry Slade, Dan Cole and Jonathan Joseph should also add some firepower when introduced. 7.5

TOTAL: 132

  • Head down to McGettigan’s JLT on Saturday to watch the Rugby World Cup final and soak up the  atmosphere.

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