Tom Curry counting on experience against South Africa for World Cup semi-final

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Tom Curry knows what it takes to defeat South Africa as he braced England for the fight of their lives in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final at the Stade de France.

Curry was part of the side that was crushed by the Springboks in the 2019 final, but he also played in England’s two victories against their rivals in 2018 and 2021 as well winning with the British and Irish Lions that same year.

Having experienced highs and lows against the reigning champions, Curry has built up an insight into the type of performance needed to topple the world champions.

“I’ve been lucky enough to experience both sides. I understand what it takes and it’s going to be a lot so can’t wait to go after it this weekend,” the all-action openside said.

“It’s always a great game when you play against them. We know the Springboks and they’ve developed their game. They’ve matured and we have as well.

“This is a clash between two very exciting teams and we can’t wait to go. It’s a semi-final. If that’s not enough to get you up for a game then I don’t know what will.

“For me there’s no place you’d rather be than in a semi-final against South Africa.”

Wing Elliot Daly is another survivor from England’s harrowing defeat in Yokohama four years ago and one of a small group of players whose international careers were revived by Steve Borthwick’s appointment in December.

The versatile Saracens back, who had fallen out of favour with Borthwick’s predecessor Eddie Jones, believes that experience has no relevance to Saturday’s rematch.

“It was disappointing four years ago but the feel around this team is that it’s a very different team to then,” Daly said.

“I had a bit of time out from the squad and then when I came back in, there was a different feeling within this group. We’re going to try and harness that.”

Daly will form a back three with Jonny May and Freddie Steward, who has been reinstated in the number 15 jersey after losing it to Marcus Smith for the quarter-final victory over Fiji.

Even if Smith had not been ruled out by concussion, however, it is unlikely Steward would have been overlooked given he has the skills needed to deal with South Africa’s precision kicking game.

“Fred’s been brilliant since he started playing for England. The confidence he’s shown since the start of the World Cup campaign has been brilliant,” Daly said.

“He’s a rock at the back under the high ball and he’s really starting to grasp the attack game now.

“He’s making really good decisions on the edge, which are usually putting me in space, which is nice. He’s a quality player and we back him all the way.

“The relationship between us in the back three now is brilliant – we can talk to one another on the field and make sure we’re in the right positions to try to take advantage of any space back there.”

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