Cheslin Kolbe says the defensive display of South Africa A against the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday again highlighted the players’ pride and honour when pulling on the green-and-gold jersey.
Following the victory for SA A over the Lions, Kolbe spoke about the importance of the Springboks in the context of what is happening in South Africa, where there have been widespread riots related to political unrest over the past week.
“Once the Springboks play the whole nations gets behind us, especially with what’s currently happening in South Africa. For us to come out and perform the way we performed tonight shows our character and will give hope to so many people who look up to the Springboks.
“All we can do is do our best and put smiles on faces through difficult times. It hasn’t been easy the last week or two, especially not getting a lot of preparation time, so I’m just super proud of the character the boys have shown.”
Talk around the theme of showing ‘character’ was a phrase which repeatedly came up in the post-match conference. Jasper Wiese echoed Kolbe’s sentiments when reflecting on the team’s performance in light of their disrupted buildup.
“Everybody is going to make a step up when it comes to this level, I think that the guys showed character today.We had minimum preparation for the game with everything going on.
“I just think that the management prepped us well. Telling us, ‘They’re going to come for us! They’re going to come for us!’ – so I think the boys handled that well.”
Kolbe was quick to agree with his teammate that the Lions certainly brought a lift in intensity that the Boks did well to hold out against.
“They definitely tried to amp up the intensity, so we just had to hang in there and stay tight. There’s a lot of things we can work on but I’m just super proud and looking forward to the next few weeks.”
As speculation continues over whether the Boks will return to Gauteng or see out the entirety of the tour in Cape Town, Kolbe said that although it was good to familiarise themselves with Cape Town Stadium, the Boks would be ready to play anywhere.
“It was good to get the first game in Cape Town behind us and just familiarise ourselves with the stadium and get that first stepping stone behind us.
“It doesn’t matter where we play. The Springbok stands for so many things and once you pull on that jersey, it’s pride, it’s honour and you just want to leave everything out there.
“There are so many players in the past that have done that and we’re just privileged to be where we are now where we can try build our own legacy to leave behind.”
Questioned on whether he felt the team had fulfilled their potential, Kolbe was unequivocal.
“100%. With minimal preparation there was a plan the coaches wanted us to follow and we just needed to show character. Especially defending for quite a number of phases on our tryline shows the fight that the boys have and that gives us energy.
“But we need to stay humble, tomorrow we’re back training to make sure we stay improving. I have to give credit to the forwards for what they’ve done: defending; defending; defending all the time! That’s how you get energy, that’s how you get excitement.”
The Springboks will face the Bulls on Saturday in their final warm-up match before taking on the British & Irish Lions in the first Test on 24 July.