World No 1 Ireland will face Scotland in the pool decider at 21h00 tonight, and the only permutation that could see the Boks being knocked out of the competition is if both teams earn try-scoring bonus points with Scotland winning by a margin of 21 points or more.
With both teams ranked in the top five in the world, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and his charges have been realistic in their view about making it through, and have ensured that they continue with their training programme should the cards fall in their favour.
“No, we’re not tense,” Koch said when asked if the team was frustrated about being in RWC limbo this past week.
“We did everything we could to be in a position to play in the quarter-final, so now we have to wait and see.
“In the last few days, we prepared as though we will play in the quarter-final. We have to wait until tonight to find out if we make it, but regardless of that, preparing for the match was our main focus.”
With the Boks set to face France in the quarter-final if Ireland progress to the knock-out stages following the hosts’ 60-7 victory against Italy on Friday night, Koch said they were hard at work at their training sessions between Wednesday and Friday to ensure that they cover all their bases and are ready to step up their game if they continue in the tournament.
“We zoomed into our game this past week and the coaches came up with plans on where we can improve so that we are at the level we need to be for the quarter-final and to be in a position to play our best rugby, and the players bought into it, so it was a good training week.”
Koch earned his first start since the 2019 Rugby World Cup in the team’s 49-18 victory against Tonga in Marseille last Sunday after being forced to withdraw from the match-day squad to face Romania in Bordeaux due to a knee niggle picked up during the warm-up – an opportunity he was delighted about on a personal note.
“It was very disappointing to have to withdraw from the match against Romania, but coach Rassie (Erasmus – SA Rugby Director of Rugby) and I made the call together,” said Koch.
“Playing against Tonga, however, was a massive honour, and it’s great that the coaches believe in me after all these years.”
The Springboks will have Saturday off and are set to return to the training field on Sunday.