England have named an unchanged team for the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa in Yokohama on Saturday.

Eddie Jones will deploy the same starting XV that beat two-time defending champions New Zealand in last week's semi-final.

That means captain Owen Farrell, Jonny May and Kyle Sinckler have been declared fit to face the Springboks, having picked up knocks against the All Blacks.

Ben Spencer is among the replacements for England after travelling to Japan to replace the injured Willi Heinz.

"It has been a good week, the players have been together a while now so it's less about the volume of training this week, it's more about sharpening the sword," said Jones, who will oversee his 50th Test in charge of England.

"South Africa are a difficult opponent and we are going to have to fight really hard to win. We know the physical part of the game is going to be important and the players will go into this game well prepared knowing how we want to play. We will go and play with no fear.

"South Africa will probably play a similar type of game they have played all tournament so we need be good in the arm wrestle and when we have the opportunities to break the game up, we are then confident and composed enough to take them."

England are looking to win their second World Cup, having triumphed over Australia in 2003 and finished runners-up to South Africa in 2007.

 

England: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Ben Spencer, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

Sean Fitzpatrick says he feels sorry for Kieran Read as he prepares to end his New Zealand career in a bronze match rather than chasing a third straight Rugby World Cup title.

All Blacks captain Read looked to be leading his side towards another World Cup triumph until the two-time defending champions met a determined England outfit in the semi-finals.

New Zealand were beaten comfortably by Eddie Jones' inspired team and Read, who previously announced his decision to retire after the tournament, is now bowing out against Wales in a third-place play-off.

Former All Black Fitzpatrick wished the 34-year-old had been able to enjoy a more fitting send-off but insisted he could still only be considered a true great.

"He's been an outstanding All Black captain, a phenomenal player, one of the great number eights in world rugby for many, many years," Fitzpatrick said, speaking courtesy of Laureus.

"He's had a long career. It's his third World Cup. I feel sorry for him that he finished on that note, but he's got another opportunity hopefully this week against Wales.

"He's one of the greats. He loves the All Black jersey and plays with a real passion. I wish him well with whatever he does. He'll go down as one of our great All Blacks."

Coach Steve Hansen will also depart after Friday's meeting with Wales, but Fitzpatrick hopes his staff - including assistant and potential replacement Ian Foster - will not pay the price for the England defeat.

Fitzpatrick believes coaches such as Foster have proven their worth regardless of a one-off loss.

"They'll go through a process [to appoint a coach]," Fitzpatrick said. "They've got people in line obviously already - I'd imagine they've done quite a bit of work on that.

"I don't think the game on Saturday would be a defining factor in saying, if it was going to be [an appointment] from within, we must change that. I don't agree with that.

"Because this group of coaches that are staying on after Hansen goes have done a brilliant job. I'm so proud as a past All Black. The past four-year cycle, they couldn't have done any more.

"They just came up against a team that dominated. I don't think that should have a real bearing on who the next All Blacks coach is."

Fitzpatrick now hopes the pain of losing to England can serve New Zealand well going forward.

"Everyone in that team hasn't experienced that feeling, so it's a big change," he added. "They'll learn from that.

"With how commanding the defeat was to England, although it's not easy to accept, they were better than us. We've got to take it on the chin and move on. We were outplayed and they [the players] know that.

"The way we did it yesterday is not enough to win tomorrow - that's been our philosophy all the way along as All Blacks. Prepare as if you're number two, never think you're good enough. At the moment, we're not number one."

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has described England's costly response to the Haka as "brilliant and quite imaginative".

England fronted up to the All Blacks' pre-match ritual at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday by forming a V shape before dethroning the two-time defending champions with a dominant 19-7 semi-final victory.

Joe Marler was among the England players warned to retreat after crossing the halfway line during the Haka.

World Rugby has fined England a reported £2,000 for overstepping the mark, and Hansen was quick to point out the sanction was due to a breach of tournament regulations rather than showing a lack of respect.

"They didn't get fined for responding to the Haka - they got fined for coming over halfway," Hanson said.

"Joe [Marler] didn't go back when he was told two or three times. The Haka requires a response. It's a challenge to you, personally, and it requires a response.

"I thought it was brilliant and quite imaginative, too."

England lock Courtney Lawes said Eddie Jones' side felt it was important to show they were ready for the battle.

"Yes, we wanted to be respectful, but we wanted to show that we weren't just going to sit there and take whatever they had," said Lawes.

"We wanted to show we were just as up for the game, and we thought it was a good way of doing that. We didn't go there to cause any disrespect. We just wanted to show that we were up for the challenge.

"They certainly seemed, as we started moving towards them, they accepted the challenge. I thought it was good."

Dane Coles has reiterated he intends to remain a part of the New Zealand squad despite the imminent changing of the guard following the Rugby World Cup.

A number of All Blacks players and coach Steve Hansen will depart following Friday's bronze final against Wales, having fallen short in their bid for a third consecutive title.

But Coles, who signed a new contract until 2021 in January, does not plan to add his name to that list in the aftermath of a chastening semi-final defeat to England.

The 68-cap hooker is now determined to work hard to prove he deserves to remain in the group.

"I'd love to be in the All Blacks next year. I love playing for this team," Coles said.

"I still have a desire to pull on that black jersey and represent my country, so there will be a strong desire to work hard next year and get back to this team because I love it and care about it."

Coles acknowledges the reverse at the hands of England will not be quickly forgotten, but he hopes the younger members of the team can use the setback as motivation.

"It's always going to be there, but it's important we learn from adversity," he said. "There's a lot of young guys who, hopefully, take a hell of a lot out of it.

"This is going to be one that hangs around. We just have to use it in the right way."

Former New Zealand star Sean Fitzpatrick believes South Africa will need "the game of their lives" to beat England in the Rugby World Cup final.

The Springboks defeated Wales to book their place in Saturday's showpiece where they will play a rematch of the 2007 final.

This match comes after England sensationally upset the All Blacks, who were two-time defending champions, the world's top-ranked side and tournament favourites.

Fitzpatrick, who watched that stunning All Blacks loss at close quarters, claims a South Africa victory would be similar in magnitude to England's win, having been hugely impressed by the squad Eddie Jones has built.

"[Jones] is a wily old character and he's got huge experience. He'll be doing everything he can," Fitzpatrick said, speaking courtesy of Laureus. "He's had a four-year plan, he's developed a squad that's very deep and a squad that will want to win the World Cup.

"I said last week, it's going to take a heck of a performance to beat the All Blacks but, if they do, they'd deserve to be there.

"This week, the roles are reversed. If South Africa beat England, they are going to have to play the game of their lives. I just can't see England losing at the moment."

If the Springboks are to triumph, 1987 World Cup winner Fitzpatrick suggests England would need to turn in an error-strewn performance, having previously profited from the All Blacks' mistakes.

"It'll be the team that makes the least mistakes," he said. "We saw an All Blacks team that made more mistakes on Saturday than they had in their previous games.

"If you make mistakes, the opposition at this level are teams that are capable of capitalising on those mistakes.

"They both have got a burning desire to win the World Cup but, for me, it's literally as easy as that. You make the least mistakes and you'll win."

While impressed by England, Fitzpatrick is now intrigued to see how they now handle playing as favourites, having also moved to the top of the rankings.

The 92-cap international said: "The biggest thing for me this Saturday is to see how England react to the pressure of being favourites, being number one in the world, up against a team not a lot of people think can beat them."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made nine changes for his final match in charge against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off.

Friday's bronze medal match at Tokyo Stadium in Chofu will bring down the curtain on Gatland's 12-year stint at the helm of Wales.

New Zealander Gatland will coach the British and Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021, while he has also signed on to lead Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs on a four-year deal.

Injuries mean Tomas Francis (shoulder), George North (hamstring), Aaron Wainwright (hamstring) and Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) will sit out the clash with the All Blacks, having started in the semi-final loss to South Africa.

Owen Lane, Nicky Smith and James Davis come into the starting XV, Hallam Amos takes over from Halfpenny at full-back, while Adam Beard returns to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones.

There is also an opportunity for Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell to form a new half-back partnership for Wales, as Owen Watkin features alongside Jonathan Davies against the dethroned world champions.

 

Wales: Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams, Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, James Davies, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Gareth Davies, David Biggar, Hadleigh Parkes.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) CEO Steve Tew said it would be "impossible" for Warren Gatland to coach the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions as the Wales boss prepares to vacate his role following the Rugby World Cup.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is set to step down after Friday's third-place match against Wales in Tokyo after the two-time defending world champions were stunned by England in the semi-final.

Gatland is also poised to depart Wales following 12 years in charge as he prepares to coach the Lions in South Africa in 2021, while he has also signed on to lead Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs on a four-year deal.

Tew, who will also vacate his position at the end of the year, poured cold water on the prospect of the 56-year-old New Zealander replacing Hansen.

"I don't know that he is going to apply for the job or not," Tew told New Zealand's Radio Sport on Monday. "He knows what our process is. He's made those decisions already, what he has in his contracts in terms of what he's going to do is entirely up to him.

"I haven't actually contemplated this but I think to coach the All Blacks and the Lions in a four-year period would be impossible but that would be a call that he has made or that he will have to make."

Tew added: "Nothing has changed from the original process, with the semi-final result no need to accelerate the decision, it is important that we focus on that, win or lose this was always the process."

Rassie Erasmus believes the hard lessons of defeat South Africa learned against Wales were central to their gruelling Rugby World Cup semi-final triumph.

Handre Pollard's perfect goalkicking performance inspired the Springboks to a tense 19-16 victory on Saturday, ending a run of four consecutive losses to Warren Gatland's men.

Far from preying on his players' minds, Erasmus felt those experiences were part of the reason South Africa got over the line in Yokohama.

"Playing against them four times and knowing that they know how to close out games, we've learned our lessons," he told a post-match news conference.

"Especially the Washington Test match [a 22-20 loss in the United States capital last year], we were ahead in the last few minutes and the way they clawed back and won… we certainly learned some lessons there.

"And the way they won the Six Nations, we certainly see they're a team that strangles the life out of the opposition. We expected exactly that and that's what we received the whole game.

"We had to match that the whole game. It probably wasn't the best spectacle to watch and I guess the boys stuck to their guns and adapted to that."

South Africa's recent record against final opponents England offers greater reasons for optimism. Boks won a three-match home series in 2018 2-1 before slipping to a 12-11 loss at Twickenham last November and also won the 2007 World Cup final 15-6 in Paris.

Nevertheless, Erasmus knows England represent a formidable prospect if they are in the mood they were in as they scythed through New Zealand in this weekend's other semi-final.

"We've played England four times in the last 18 months, it's 2-2," he said.

"We're accustomed with the way they play. They're obviously much better than when we last played them and you could see it the way they dismantled New Zealand.

"We think we're in with a chance. I'm not 100 per cent sure that a World Cup final is going to be won by an expansive game plan with wonderful tries. It might be, I might be wrong. I think we'll go the grind-it-out route."

If that hints the tactical preparations are already largely taken care of, a weight of responsibility remains for whoever is responsible for Erasmus' laundry.

"Every time since I started coaching, when I lose a match, I change my clothing," he chuckled when the superstition surrounding a lucky white shirt that has been omnipresent on the road to the final was brought up.

"Last year I had to change quite a lot of clothing because we lost quite a lot. This year I only had to change it once.

"I'm hoping I can wear this until the end of the final. This is my lucky shirt so far."

Warren Gatland believes South Africa have a very good chance of beating England in the Rugby World Cup final but warned the Springboks might need a more expansive approach to the one that saw off Wales 19-16.

An immaculate goalkicking performance from Handre Pollard saw the Boks edge a war of attrition in Sunday's semi-final to book a showdown with England, who stunned reigning champions New Zealand in somewhat contrasting style on Saturday.

Gatland, who will step down after 12 years in charge of Wales after the third-place match against the All Blacks, had no qualms over South Africa's tactics, where box kicks from Pollard and tenacious scrum-half Faf de Klerk were to the fore.

"They've got the physicality to match England, although I thought England were outstanding against the All Blacks. They've got a very good chance," he told a news conference after Damian de Allende and Josh Adams ran in a try apiece for their respective sides.

"They need to be a bit more expansive in terms of the way they want to play. They had a pretty simple game plan against us: using De Allende in terms of from the scrums and a lot of box-kicking from De Klerk and Pollard as well.

"It was very effective and for them it was about doing everything they could to make the final."

After four consecutive wins against South Africa, Gatland expected another close encounter.

Wales were unable to add the distinction of becoming World Cup finalists in a 2019 where they won the Six Nations Grand Slam and briefly stood as the number one side in the world.

Nevertheless, Gatland rejected the suggestion those exertions had taken a decisive toll.

"With 76 minutes on the clock at 16-16 I thought we had a bit of momentum," he said. "We were in their half and it was a big turnover from a breakdown where we haven't kicked the ball.

"From there they've managed to get a penalty from a lineout drive. For me, I felt the longer the game went on we would get an opportunity.

"Those games against South Africa that we've had in the past five or six years have been very similar. We've been in close, tight encounters that could have gone either way and congratulations to South Africa, they're the ones who came out on top."

When Gatland bows out against the country of his birth on Friday, the weight of a glorious era comprising three Grand Slams will be heavy.

"I'm hurting, obviously disappointed but we've still got an opportunity to make a bit of history," said veteran captain Alun Wyn Jones.

"There's no real consolation but we move on and make the most of the next opportunity to put this red jersey on that means so much."

Gatland added: "We're very disappointed but I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved in this World Cup and what this group of players have done.

"The dream was [to make the final] my last game, but it's not to be. We need to recover over the next couple of days and enjoy it against the All Blacks."

Wales could not have put any more effort into their display against South Africa, according to Warren Gatland, who took pride in his side's over-achievement at the Rugby World Cup.

Handre Pollard's late penalty settled a tense semi-final in Yokohama on Sunday as the Springboks came out on top 19-16 to progress to the final, where they will face England.

Next Saturday's clash will be a rematch of the 2007 final, which South Africa won 15-6, while Wales will face New Zealand in the bronze match on Friday.

Josh Adams' converted try had put Wales level with under 15 minutes remaining, but the Six Nations champions failed to capitalise on some sustained pressure, with Pollard settling the contest with his fourth successful penalty with four minutes left.

Gatland, though, was adamant his side had little else left to give.

"We gave 100 per cent. It's a tough, physical South Africa team, they won the collisions in terms of the carry and stuff, but I thought we were pretty good at times, but they're big men," Gatland, whose tenure will come to an end after the World Cup, told ITV Sport.

"Our guys didn't take a backwards step and I can only be proud of them for that and like I said we stayed in that arm-wrestle for a long time.

"Great credit to South Africa, they played very well, and we probably gave up too many penalties in our own half and that cost us dearly.

"I'm proud of the fact we never gave up and that got us back into the game and we were in the arm-wrestle, but probably three or four penalties during the game, which would cost any team points...

"That's how close and tight these games are. We're disappointed because we worked hard, and a penalty is the difference between the teams.

"We've punched massively above our weight when you consider the playing numbers in Wales. I'm massively proud of what these guys have achieved – they'll keep playing hard and working hard.

"For a long time, it was pretty close and at 16-16 you're dreaming about the points going the other way but congratulations to South Africa and I'm sure it'll be a great final with England."

Gatland's counterpart Rassie Erasmus, meanwhile, believes the Springboks' grit and spirit will ensure they have earned the respect of fans back home and across the world.

"We're in the final of a World Cup. I guess that'll get some respect, but we're only halfway there," he said.

"We play a class England team in the final but we're there, we've got a chance now and we might go all the way, you never know.

"Our group stands together. Nobody cares who gets substituted. We substituted our captain and he takes it on the chin. The guys defended on the try line and those moments count and really help the team gel together and that kind of team spirit can make the nation proud."

Leigh Halfpenny disabused any notion of solidarity with Willie le Roux when he caught his opposite number in mid-air after half an hour of Sunday's attritional Rugby World Cup semi-final in Yokohama.

Wales and South Africa's fullbacks had an abundance of work to get through in swirling conditions as the opening 40 minutes produced 40 kicks from hand.

After the thundering intensity and brilliance of England's Saturday dethroning of New Zealand, this felt like a different sport at times. Opposition 22s were not usually places to set up camp but visit fleetingly.

This clash of two brutally physical packs meant such an encounter was always on the cards, placing huge onus on a pair of fly-halves whose route to a defining match has been nowhere near as smooth as they would have hoped four years ago.

When South Africa beat Wales 23-19 in the 2015 quarter-final at Twickenham in an eminently more watchable affair, a 21-year-old Handre Pollard landed five penalties and a drop goal.

A career on the line

Already named IRB Junior Player of the Year for 2014, Pollard's cool-headedness and nerveless accuracy had him marked out for greatness. However, a shoulder injury sustained playing club rugby in Japan set off a career-threatening chain of events.

He decided to try to nurse the problem through the 2016 Super Rugby season with the Bulls, but that plan was shelved after he suffered a snapped anterior cruciate ligament during training.

Pragmatically, Pollard elected to have surgery to fix his shoulder while incapacitated, only to contract an infection in hospital.

"It got to the point where the doctors raised the subject of amputating my arm, although it wasn't an immediate option," he told The Guardian. "I spent six weeks in hospital pumped full of antibiotics about seven hours a day."

The treatment worked and an absence from the international stage of almost two years ended against New Zealand in North Shore. Pollard was a replacement in a 57-0 mauling at the hands of the All Blacks, yet he was playing with the perspective that things could have been so much worse.

It helps to know a World Cup semi-final is at once much more than a game of rugby but still only a game of rugby. South Africa anticipated a tight contest and bet on Pollard's goal-kicking. He was perfect in a game where they were never behind.

A career forever questioned

The responsibility of leading the catch-up operation fell to Dan Biggar, who kicked 14 points to Pollard's 18 in that Twickenham meeting.

Acclaim has rarely arrived so easily for Biggar as it does for his counterpart, though. His 11-year international career has been a fight for approval against celebrated compatriots, while measuring up uncomfortably to the aesthetic demands of a Welsh 10.

From competing against James Hook and Rhys Priestland during his early years to recent jousts with Gareth Anscombe, Biggar has been a loyal servant to his country, always striving to belong.

When an injury to Halfpenny four years ago thrust kicking duties upon him, many doubted Biggar's chops for the task. His 23 points sent England on the way to heartbreak at their own party.

Anscombe being ruled out of this competition persuaded Wales great JJ Williams to declare his country could not win a World Cup with Biggar at fly-half.

"I've had it my whole career,” Biggar told WalesOnline. "There could be another ex-player calling for someone from Penclawdd to play number 10 next week! It's one of those things."

There was similar defiance in each swipe of the boot that took Wales from 3-0, 6-3 and 9-3 behind to parity early in the second period.

Glory and despair

Unfortunately for Biggar, the Springboks had decided to target him at the gain line and he missed Damian de Allende as the South Africa skipper burst through for a game-breaking try.

It was his last involvement, as Rhys Patchell came on in his place – the words of Williams and others perhaps unfairly pounding in Biggar's ears.

Josh Adams went over to level matters once again after a monumental Wales effort by the South Africa line, but the glory would be Pollard's.

Wales brought a maul to ground right in front of referee Jerome Garces and, after a frivolous drop goal attempt, Pollard took it back to the tee.

Ice cold as usual, he bisected the posts with a certain inevitability. Of course, his presence on such a stage was anything but inevitable when faced with the consuming darkness of that hospital bed.

South Africa battled into the final of the Rugby World Cup as Handre Pollard's pinpoint kicking earned a 19-16 victory over Wales in a semi-final of attrition in Yokohama.

With England coach Eddie Jones watching on from the stands following his side's dominant display against New Zealand, Pollard starred to take the Springboks into their first World Cup final since 2007.

Following an exchange of penalties between Pollard and the equally composed Dan Biggar, a try from Damian de Allende put South Africa in the lead before the hour.

The tournament's leading try-scorer Josh Adams powered over to pull Wales level soon after but, despite a spell of pressure, Warren Gatland's side could not craft another opening.

It was Pollard who settled it, punting a long-range penalty through the uprights after a foul at the maul to send South Africa through to their third World Cup final, with England waiting for a rematch of their showdown 12 years ago.

Ben Spencer will join the England squad as emergency cover for Willi Heinz ahead of the Rugby World Cup final.

World Cup finalists England announced on Sunday that Saracens scrum-half Spencer is on his way to Japan amid concerns over Heinz.

Heinz – who will undergo a scan – injured his hamstring in Saturday's memorable semi-final win over two-time defending champions New Zealand.

A three-time international, Spencer missed out on a spot in Eddie Jones' 31-man squad for the World Cup, though he did take part in one of England's training camps.

England will face either Wales or South Africa in the final in Yokohama on November 2.

Aaron Smith says New Zealand's Rugby World Cup exit to England left him "highly embarrassed" and insisted the All Blacks could not be accused of not caring.

Two-time defending champions New Zealand saw their unbeaten run at World Cups that stretched back to 2007 ended in convincing fashion by England.

Eddie Jones' ran out 19-7 winners in the semi-finals to consign the All Blacks to the bronze-medal match.

Scrum-half Smith was adamant the reverse was not for a lack of heart, though, as he compared the New Zealand dressing room to a funeral.

"I'm truly gutted and highly embarrassed," Smith said. "You've got family, friends texting you, but you know they're pretty gutted.

"If New Zealand [the country] thinks that we're not gutted, you've just got to go see that changing room. It was like a funeral.

"We are putting on brave faces so it's going to be a long summer. It's over and we trained our guts out. We trained hard for this and prepared well.

"But, in the end, sport happens and we got beat."

New Zealand winger Sevu Reece paid tribute to England, who can look forward to next Saturday's final.

"They were the better team in the end," Reece said. "They came out really strong at the start and they managed to hold onto that for the whole 80 [minutes].

"We expected them to come out with the performance they did but credit to England for a great performance."

Maro Itoje insists the England camp was calm leading into the stunning Rugby World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand - because Eddie Jones' men are always confident.

England dominated the All Blacks for an outstanding 19-7 victory on Saturday, handing the two-time defending champions their first World Cup defeat since 2007.

Itoje and his team-mates are now heading to the final, with England reaching the trophy match for the first time in 12 years.

The downing of New Zealand was widely considered an upset, yet in-form lock Itoje suggested England always fancied their chances, illustrating a self-belief that will serve them well heading into the final.

"We've always had belief within our squad," Itoje said. "We have the players, we have some brilliant characters in our squad, our coaches, they've done a phenomenal job so far.

"So belief has never been a problem for us.

"It was quite calm [before New Zealand], to be honest. I don't know how it was perceived from the outside.

"But we always believed that we are capable of something like we demonstrated on the pitch. It doesn't come as a big shock for us."

Itoje assessed the victory as "pretty cool" and is now relishing the prospect of a week-long build-up to the game of his life.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool. I'm very, very happy with the performance from the team," he said.

"There's obviously some things we could have done better, but we did a good job in staying engaged.

"We're really excited. These are the weeks that you want to be a part of as a player. And I'm very honoured and humbled to be a part of what will be a great week."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.