Boks set sights on Wallabies, correcting Australia record

Siya Kolisi says the Springboks will give the Wallabies “the respect they deserve” as they seek their first win in Australia since 2013 in Sunday’s Rugby Championship clash.

The Springboks will face the Wallabies for the first time since 2019 when they take the field of the Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

A major talking point this week has centered around the Boks’ record in Australia, where they are currently on a five-match losing run against the home side.

The Wallabies’ unbeaten run at home to the Springboks stretches back to a 24-23 victory in Perth in 2014. The last time these two teams faced each other in Australia, the Wallabies came away with a 23-18 victory in 2018.

Springbok captain Kolisi appeared alongside assistant coach Mzwandile Stick during an online media conference on Saturday and said they are well aware of the challenge that awaits them on Sunday.

“For us, we obviously do want to win consistently. But it’s all about tomorrow. That’s the start for us. That’s the one that we are focusing on. Tomorrow is an important game for us. As you said, the record is not good for us, in terms of winning in Australia. Our process is the most important thing for us. We know how we want to play and that’s what we want to focus on.

“We are really excited. It’s a good team that Australia have. We haven’t had a great record there, so we want to make sure that we correct that. It’s a stepping stone for us and we want to make sure that we execute our plan tomorrow. We know what Australia has done to us in the past.”

Kolisi was further pressed as to why the Springboks have not had a great record in Australia, with the Wallabies’ generally good winning ratio when playing at home pointed out.

“I don’t really know, I have to give credit to them. They have a great record against everyone in Australia. They haven’t lost a lot of games against most teams, especially at Suncorp. They have done really well there and I think that’s why they play a lot of games there.

“For us, our focus is 100% on the game we have to play on Sunday. We will give them the respect that they deserve. We are focusing on what we need to do tomorrow. We are going to have to make sure that we pitch up. I am looking forward to it. We are going to have to pitch up with everything.”

A particular threat to the Springboks will come in the form of veteran flyhalf Quade Cooper, who has been named to start in his first Test in four years after being called up by coach Dave Rennie.

The 33-year-old flyhalf played the last of his 70 Tests against Italy in 2017 and his international career appeared over. But Rennie threw him a lifeline last month ahead of the first of three Bledisloe Cup defeats by New Zealand, when he called him up to help put his relatively young squad through their paces.

“He is a world-class player,” Stick said. “We are going to have to respect him and make sure that we don’t give him a lot of time and space to make decisions. Like you mentioned, he is a similar player to Finn Russell, who we faced when we played against the British & Irish Lions.

“With ball in hand, we know the challenge that’s coming. They are going to try and keep the ball as long as possible and are very dangerous. So, we have actually worked really hard on our conditioning to make sure that we can face the challenge. It’s been a tough two weeks, the guys have been working very hard. Not only Cooper, they have world-class players, also having Kerevi back in that team. So we have to respect them. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Photo: Getty Images

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Dylan Jack