Rugby World Cup 2015: Francois Pienaar on South Africa v NZ

The South Africa team stand for their national anthem at the Rugby World Cup
South Africa and New Zealand have won the World Cup twice each
Rugby World Cup semi-final: South Africa v NZ
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 24 October Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar believes the role of underdogs will suit South Africa in Saturday's semi-final against New Zealand.

The two-time champions, who won under Pienaar in 1995, are up against a side hoping to win successive titles.

"We love being underdogs - I don't know why, but if we're underdogs we want to prove the world wrong," he said.

"New Zealand are wonderful to watch, but if you stop them and put pressure on them you always have a chance."

Francois Pienaar receives the Webb Ellis trophy from Nelson Mandela after South Africa beat New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final
Francois Pienaar receives the Webb Ellis trophy from Nelson Mandela after South Africa beat New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final

'Our history is one of margins'

The former back-rower, who was famously handed the World Cup trophy by then South African president Nelson Mandela after the Boks' home triumph in 1995, appreciates the talents of the current All Black squad.

"They've got the most incredible backline I've seen in many, many, years," he continued.

"But I go back to our history and our history is one of margins. It's a decision here, a drop-goal there. It's somebody that loses his head when he shouldn't that will decide the game and I expect nothing less."

2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final line-up
South Africa v New ZealandSaturday 24 October at Twickenham, 16:00 BST start
Argentina v AustraliaSunday 25 October at Twickenham, 16:00 GMT start

Backing for Burger

Springbok flanker Schalk Burger has received praise after his 26 carries in their narrow quarter-final win over Wales.

Attention on Saturday will focus on the 32-year-old and opposite number, New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, who are likely to be playing against each other for the last time.

Pienaar recognises Burger's achievements, especially after he spent time in intensive care in 2013 with meningitis.

"He's come through terrible ailments," said Pienaar. "He was very, very ill. He's come back and he's been able to put the jersey on and run out for his country.

"He'll leave nothing on the field come Saturday."

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'The best World Cup'

South Africa have reached the semi-finals despite losing their opening pool match to Japan, considered by many as the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history.

At the time Pienaar admits to letting his emotions getting the better of him.

"Ten minutes before the final whistle I think I put my fist through a chair in front of me because we made a mistake," he said.

"With five minutes to go I actually realised there was a part of me saying 'Japan deserves to win this game, they've been incredible.'"

"That just sort of set the tournament alight, because before that there was only one pool people focused on.

"All of a sudden all the games were close, the games were magnificent. This World Cup has been the best World Cup."

Japan's players celebrate after causing possibly the greatest upset at a Rugby World Cup as they beat two-time tournament winners South Africa.
Japan's players celebrate after causing possibly the greatest upset at a Rugby World Cup as they beat two-time tournament winners South Africa

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