Springboks’ assistant coach, Dean Human, has emphasized the need for an improved performance when they face New Zealand in their second consecutive Rugby World Cup final in Paris this coming Saturday.

South Africa had to work very hard to beat England (16-15) and France (29-28) in two gripping playoff matches to secure their place in the final.

With the All Blacks having proven their worth as a well-established team that prides itself on starting quickly, Human said the Boks would have to step up to become the first team to lift the Webb Ellis Cup four times and claim back-to-back titles away from home.

“A good start is always a good thing, but it’s important to finish well too,” said Human.

“Rugby matches are won in 80 minutes, but we know the All Blacks like a fast start, and we’ll work on that. In our first game against them this year they built up a 17-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, and we managed to change things in the second match (at Twickenham), but we are now six or seven games down the line, and they’ve improved a lot since then.”

Human said the Boks can expect a massive onslaught from the New Zealanders in the final, following their hard-fought victory over England in the semi-final at Stade de France last Saturday: “All credit to England. They had us on the backfoot for a while, which served as a wake-up call. We’ll need to elevate our game if we want to regain the world champions’ title.”

The former Springbok prop added that the All Blacks are a strong team in all aspects, including the scrums. “They are well-prepared, boast a formidable forward pack, and will certainly attempt to use it to their advantage and dominate in that area. It’s bound to be a tough battle.”