Warren Gatland admits that he was highly impressed with England’s performance as they dethroned the All Blacks in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final.
Gatland will have to contend with a third-place playoff against Steve Hansen’s side next Friday but when quizzed on what he thinks will happen during Saturday’s final, the Wales head coach suggested that Eddie Jones’ side may have peaked too early.
“They (South Africa) have the physicality to match England,” Gatland said.
“I thought England were outstanding last night. They have a very good chance. They might need to be a bit more expansive.
“For them, it was about making the final. Sometimes teams play in semi-finals and don’t always turn up for a final so it will be interesting to see England next week.”
Of course, the dream would have been to finish his time with Wales in a final with England but coaching his last match in charge of Wales against his native country will be a special occasion too.
“We have another game to play, against the All Blacks. The dream was – my first game was against England – for it to be the last game but it was not to be. We need to recover well and start preparing for the All Blacks. Next Friday will be our last time together so we must make sure we enjoy ourselves.”
“We will look to see how the players pull up for this and the game against the All Blacks and see whether we need to give players a rest as it’s a five-day turnaround. The All Blacks are hurting as much as we are. It is a tough game to play but we will give it the respect it deserves.”