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'Friends say Ireland are our bogey team' - says Rassie Erasmus

World-ranked number one Ireland have won the last two, and four of the last six games against South Africa, but that record doesn't stop the Springboks being made slight favourites for Saturday night’s Paris blockbuster.

Well, they are the world champions.

Andy Farrell’s side lead Pool B on 10 points after wins over Romania and Tonga, while South Africa sit in second having taken nine points from victories over Scotland and the Oaks.

The winner of the Stade de France clash will be frontrunners to top the group and likely avoid a quarter-final match-up with Les Bleus.

In World Cup terms the teams are poles apart. South Africa have won the competition three times in seven attempts, while Ireland have infamously never been beyond the quarter-finals after nine goes.

The sides have never met in the tournament.

Asked if Ireland’s poor record had been brought up as part of the preparation, Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus broke into a smile.

"I was thinking about that when I read a few things on social media," the 50-year-old told RTÉ Sport.

"A few of my friends said that Ireland is our bogey team, but the World Cup is Ireland’s bogey competition.

"But then if you think about history, when we lost our pool match against New Zealand (in 2019), then we won the World Cup. It had never been done before.

"The New Zealanders lost their first pool game ever this year and I think they're strong contenders this year.

"A team with other coaches, other captains, other game plans, other supporters, the transformation of the team in terms of how they play, how they want to attack.

"I really think history, it might be nice to make it a sensational thing, but the belief from within the Irish team and from the South African team - at the end of