Brodie Retallick South Africa could spring a surprise in World Cup opener against New Zealand

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The Rugby World Cup may get under way on Friday when hosts Japan face Russia but the tournament will not fully ignite until a day later when the giants of New Zealand and South Africa collide in Yokohama.

It is an encounter between two of rugby’s great nations, who have collectively won five of the eight World Cups to date.

And while the All Blacks have dominated the international landscape in recent years, there is evidence to suggest the Springboks have come a long way since a 57-0 drubbing at their hands exactly two years ago.

Read more:England will have to go the extra mile to win the World Cup

Fast forward a year to September 2018 and Rassie Erasmus’s side avenged that defeat with their first win in New Zealand for nine years, winning 36-34.

They subsequently lost 32-30 in a rematch a fortnight later but earlier this summer drew 16-16 in Wellington during the Rugby Championship, which South Africa won for the first time since it was renamed following the addition of Argentina in 2012.

Brodie Retallick
South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe has burst onto the scene in last couple of years

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