Captain Siya Kolisi says the Springboks will leave everything on the field when they face the Wallabies, despite the looming rematch with the All Blacks. JON CARDINELLI reports from Port Elizabeth.
Kolisi’s Boks beat the All Blacks 36-34 in Wellington two weeks ago. The result marked the Boks’ first win in New Zealand since 2009, and only the second Test victory for an away side during the same period.
There’s been a lot of talk about what that result could mean for world rugby. The next clash between the Boks and All Blacks in Pretoria has sold out.
Will the Boks claim another All Blacks scalp, or will the All Blacks set the record straight? Fans around the world will have an answer on 6 October.
The Boks aren’t looking that far ahead, though. On Thursday, coach Rassie Erasmus suggested that this side still has a lot to prove. While they did beat the All Blacks in New Zealand, they lost the previous two games in Argentina and Australia.
Kolisi echoed his coach’s sentiments on Friday. For the past week, the captain has been urging his charges on and calling for another big effort. According to Kolisi, the Boks will be every bit as physical against the Wallabies this Saturday as they were against the All Blacks two weeks ago.
‘The break has been good for us,’ he said. ‘It gave the bodies time to recover. We made a lot of tackles against the All Blacks. The thing that stood out for me the most was when we had an opportunity, we took it. That was something we were struggling with [in previous games].
‘We’re a bit fresher after a couple of weeks, and looking forward to the challenge this weekend. We know as players that we have set a standard and we have to maintain that from here on in.
‘The coach would obviously love for us to be in that mindset the whole time, but it’s the pressure we put on each other that will get us there. That game against the All Blacks was special. We want to maintain that standard every week, and perhaps be even better.
‘I find that sometimes, we as South Africans wait until our backs are against the wall until we respond,’ Kolisi added. ‘Every individual in the team, and all the coaches, are working together to ensure we get there. We should be pitching up like that every single week.’
Kolisi grew up in Zwide, a township on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. This Saturday, he will lead the Boks out for the first time at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The game has been sold out for some time, and the locals will be urging the Boks on to replicate the standards seen against the All Blacks.
‘It’s great to see that the game has sold out,’ Erasmus said. ‘We spoke about it as a team. The media and the fans can get negative [when the team is losing] but we should really see it as a positive. It means that they still care. If they’re not disappointed and there is not much concern in that situation, then you have to worry.
‘Now look, we’ve got one result, and there is a sellout. That’s how quickly you can turn things around. If you win, the fans will come. It’s good to see that, but now the responsibility is with us to follow through.’