Captain Siya Kolisi says the Boks are braced and ready for what is expected to be a physical battle against Argentina in their opening Rugby Championship match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
After claiming a historic 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions, the Boks will head straight back into action as they look to defend their Rugby Championship title.
However, the Boks have rotated and rested several players for their opener against Argentina, with 12 changes made to the match-day squad that won the third and final Test in the Lions series in Cape Town last weekend.
“It wasn’t tough for us to switch [from the Lions Series] to the Rugby Championship,” Kolisi reiterated at Friday’s press conference.
“We made that decision last Saturday already, and on Sunday we received the clips for this week’s game from the coaches, which they had done a while ago.
“So, we were never going to sit back and chill. Argentina are coming here flat out, and they want to prove a point.”
Kolisi added: “It’s a challenge to play against them. They have a strong pack and we’ve had a lot of big battles against them.
“They play similarly to us with their set pieces, scrummaging and mauls, so we have to turn it up when we face them. It will be a different challenge for us this week, but we are looking forward to it as a team.”
Speaking of the transition from winning the series against the Lions to switching to Rugby Championship mode, assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said their preparation was the same as for all other Test matches.
“We didn’t prepare differently this week to the way we prepared for the matches against the British & Irish Lions.
“We have processes and routines in terms of our preparation, and we follow that no matter which team we face. We want to be consistent in what we do, and we have set a standard for ourselves, so we’d like to maintain that and win every game we play.
“It will be tough against Argentina, especially if one looks at how they performed in their matches against Wales away from home, so we respect them.”
Stick added: “Argentina have selected the best team from their squad, so it’s going to be a tough match, but we’ll be up for the challenge.”
Stick said he was also excited to see the new-look Springbok backline in action, insisting there was a good balance of youth and experience.
“They [the backs] have been working hard and were key members behind the scenes against the British & Irish Lions,” said Stick.
“Sbu [Nkosi] has been with us a while now and we know what he can do. He also has an X-factor. Aphelele [Fassi], meanwhile, is a talented young player and he did well against Georgia, and Damian (Willemse) has been playing off the bench for the bomb squad, and he’s doing the basics right.
“The key for us is the balance of the squad. Guys like Frans [Steyn] and Jesse [Kriel] have been there before and know what it takes at this level, and then there are youngsters who can bring an X-factor, and I am sure they’ll grab the opportunity.”