Rugby

Revenge no motivation for England’s semi-final with South Africa – Ollie Chessum

Ollie Chessum denied there was a score to be settled with South Africa (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ollie Chessum denied there was a score to be settled with South Africa (Mike Egerton/PA) Ollie Chessum denied there was a score to be settled with South Africa (Mike Egerton/PA)

England second row Ollie Chessum insists revenge is not a motivating factor for Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

The rivals collide for the sixth time in the tournament’s history with the most recent of those meetings taking place in Yokohama four years ago when Eddie Jones’ side were toppled 32-12 in the final.

Having demolished New Zealand a week earlier, England were expected to topple the Springboks but instead they were off the pace from the start and overwhelmed as a consequence.

There should be at least eight survivors from that starting XV who take the field for the rematch at Stade de France, but Chessum denied there was a score to be settled.

“It hasn’t been mentioned much, certainly by me anyway. I wasn’t here in 2019 so it doesn’t motivate me,” the Leicester second row said.

“We have got a new group of players now who are quite happy to leave that in the past and focus on what we can do as this new England group.”

Predictions of the semi-finals being comprised entirely of Six Nations sides have failed to materialise with England the sole European representative and the only unbeaten team left in the competition.

They face one of the great South Africa sides who have been installed as strong favourites to emulate New Zealand by winning back-to-back World Cups in the wake of their victory over France in the previous round.

Defence coach Kevin Sinfield has said that England were “in awe of the physicality they brought” against the hosts and Chessum insisted the Springboks must be matched in the forward exchanges.

“These are the games you want to be a part of – against the biggest teams on the biggest stage in the biggest competition,” Chessum said.

“They have some unbelievable players in their pack. They bring an exceptional level of physicality. It’s up to us to go out on the weekend and compete against that.

“South Africa are unbelievable across the board and we have got to be the same, if not better.

“We are definitely hoping for another step from us. That’s been the nature of the competition. Week by week we have grown as a group and got better in various aspects of our game.

“It’s important that we bring the physicality, but also the level of execution as well.”

England have a settled team and will make only minimal changes to the starting XV that overcame Fiji in the quarter-finals.

England’s Kyle Sinckler during a training session
England’s Kyle Sinckler during a training session Kyle Sinckler could return at tighthead prop for England (David Davies/PA)

The biggest area of debate is at full-back where Steve Borthwick is weighing up the high ball and positional expertise of Freddie Steward against the cutting edge in attack provided by Marcus Smith.

Smith, a converted fly-half, has made only two starts and three replacement appearances in the position and his lack of experience could be exposed by South Africa’s accomplished kicking game.

Owen Farrell’s impressive display against Fiji appears to have brought his duel with George Ford for the number 10 jersey to a conclusion, but Kyle Sinckler could return at tighthead prop.