Captain Siya Kolisi says there is still good reason for the Springboks to take some confidence into Saturday’s highly anticipated Test against the All Blacks.
“The last two games, I think we kind of messed up ourselves – things that we normally get right, we didn’t get right. So, our focus for this week has been to make sure that we get on top of things that we’re normally good at, and not deviate from what the plan is… what we’ve always been good at,” Kolisi said.
“It is obviously tough to lose two games in a row, and it’s the first time since I’ve been captain. But we don’t focus on those things. We want to win every game, but the biggest thing that we’ve focused on is to make sure we get our stuff right this weekend.
“We do think about it [the past successes after defeats], and that’s also something I said to the guys – it’s something we’ve done before. We aren’t being asked to do something different, that we’ve never done before.
“A lot of the guys in this team have won against the All Blacks, so we will take confidence from that, and that’s why we work so hard and look back at what you can fix, what you did in the past and what you can do to get better.
“That’s how we review ourselves. We looked at the games before: what did we do then, how can we be better this week. And that’s what we did now – we looked at the game against Australia. We feel that we deviated from our plan, we did things that we don’t normally do. And now we want to go back to what made us get to the position that we’re in today.”
The Springboks won’t look to beat the All Blacks at their own game, but they will draw plenty of confidence from the fact that over the past four Tests between these two sides, just 10 points in total were all that separated the sides (South Africa accumulated 95 points to New Zealand’s 105).
“History is definitely something you can use as motivation. You think about it,” said Kolisi. “We take confidence into it.”
Kolisi said the team also hoped to give the country something to celebrate as South Africans marked Heritage Day on Friday.
“We know how important rugby is in our country, so every game is important to us,” said Kolisi. “We know what the people back home want and what they expect from us, and as players it is important to direct all our energy into this game.
“It certainly motivates us that rugby is so significant to the people of our country so we’ll give it our best, and hopefully we can give South Africa something to celebrate, especially with today being Heritage Day.”
Stick highlighted the intense rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks going into the match and said the Boks were fully aware of the challenge they would face when the team’s cross paths.
“Games between the Springboks and All Blacks are massive, and one doesn’t need much more motivation than that,” said Stick.
“The most important thing for us is that we need to be in control of our systems and how we play. Playing against the All Blacks is massive, but it is important to keep one’s emotions in check.
“They’ll play according to their strengths and we’ll play according to ours.”
Zooming in on the game, Stick said it was vital the team executes their game plan with precision to finish the match on the right end of the scoreboard.
“We pride ourselves on our set pieces and defence, and we know what is coming tomorrow,” he said. “It will be a tough match as New Zealand like to get the ball in space and they have a good kicking game, but we’ll be up for it.”
“They’ve selected three fullbacks at the back, and Jordie Barrett likes height and can be a tough customer, but Willie (le Roux), Sbu (Nkosi) and Makazole (Mapimpi) have been here before.
“The team that executes their game plan most effectively, will give themselves the best chance to win this game.”