Papali’i says ‘Easy Company’ can beat ‘Bomb Squad’

Venue: Stade de France, Paris Dates: Saturday, 28 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Flanker Dalton Papali’i says New Zealand must “give it hell” to overcome South Africa and their ‘Bomb Squad’ of replacements in the World Cup final.

The Springboks were struggling before their bench – who they refer to as the Bomb Squad – turned the tide and helped beat England 16-15 in their semi-final.

Papali’i acknowledged the South African bench’s reputation, but says the All Blacks have their own “Easy Company”.

“Talking about the Bomb Squad, they’ve proven themselves,” said Papali’i.

“They can come on and change the game like that. Whoever’s on the [New Zealand] bench, they need to really be screwed on up top and give them hell.”

Papali’i, 26, replaced All Blacks skipper Sam Cane in the knockout stage wins over Ireland and Argentina.

He explained that he is in a group of team-mates who are watching television series Band of Brothers, which is based on the World War Two activities of the US Army’s ‘Easy Company’.

“I made a little joke, you know they’ve got the Bomb Squad, so we can have ‘Easy Company’,” Papali’i said.

“We want to go on and finish the job and be in the trenches.”

‘Something truly special’

The All Blacks came to France ranked fourth in the world, following a record defeat by South Africa in their final warm-up game at Twickenham.

They were beaten by hosts France on the opening night, but have since won every game and will play in a record fifth World Cup final when they take on the Springboks.

Both teams are competing for a record fourth title and Papali’i said the All Blacks’ senior players addressing the squad on Monday was an emotional moment.

“It was quite special to hear some of the things those certain players said from the heart,” he added.

“You know, you think you know someone but once they open up and really be vulnerable in front of a team, it was quite special to hear.

“It was truly something special when you hear those boys open up. You know those leaders have been through a lot in their careers, the highs and the lows, the off-field and on-field stuff, and for them to open up, it sort of makes you feel welcomed and you want to play this game for them.

“There were a few tears and I think that’s awesome to see, players showing vulnerability, just opening up about how much this tour and this sort of game means.

“There were some saying this is probably one of the most important games of All Blacks history. [The] All Blacks went through a bit of a hard path to get here, media, friends, family even criticising us and all that, and we stuck together. We weren’t even said to be in the final and now look at us, we’re here.

“Different players take it differently and some of the older players probably were hit a little bit harder and it was good to see just a bit of emotion and the want from them.

“Seeing that gives all the other players an extra two, three per cent to think ‘OK, we are going to the well and we’ve got to give it our all’.”