Siya Kolisi says that the Springboks owe it to Chester Williams to produce a special performance against the All Blacks in the World Cup opener. JON CARDINELLI in Yokohama reports.
The Boks will have the image of the late World Cup-winner embedded on their jerseys this Saturday. Speaking from the Yokohama Stadium on Friday, Kolisi explained what Williams means to the team.
‘I was only one when the Boks won the 1995 World Cup. But there’s no doubt that the players of that era opened doors for those who followed,’ the Bok captain said.
‘James Small passed away a few months ago, and the boys played for him in that first Rugby Championship game against Australia.
‘Chester is very special and we owe it to him to do the same. He may be gone but we appreciate what he did for us and he will always be with us.’
The Boks have been building towards this game for more than two years. Kolisi admitted that it’s been difficult to keep all of the emotions in check.
‘We’ve worked hard and that has kept the nerves at bay. It’s been a good way to manage it.
‘I’m sure we will get another idea about where we stand tomorrow,’ he said of the coming game. ‘I don’t think that either team is going into the match with an edge.
‘It’s 50/50 at the moment. It’s an important one if you think that we could meet them again later in the tournament.’
The Boks were in good spirits when they gathered for the traditional team photo on Friday morning. After being based in Tokyo Bay for the past week, they’re now in the busy centre of Shibuya.
‘You can feel the excitement when you walk across Shibuya Crossing,’ Kolisi said. ‘The vibe around the city is incredible and it’s special to be a part of that.
‘I really hope that this tournament lifts the whole country.