Captain Siya Kolisi says the Springboks hope they can once again put a smile on the faces of supporters as they make a long-awaited return to action against Georgia on Friday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The countdown for the Springboks to get back to playing is nearly over.
On Friday night, the world champs will take part in the first of two warm-up games against Georgia ahead of the three-Test Lions series.
At this point, it’s impossible to know just how quickly the Springboks will be able to transition back into the well-oiled machine which was operating at optimum levels by the time the World Cup final arrived on 2 November 2019.
However, on the eve of the clash with Georgia, Kolisi looked relaxed and was full of smiles as he chatted about the productive work the Springboks have been doing behind the scenes as they prepare for a highly anticipated Test match battle.
“This is huge for us, we’ve been talking to each other for so long on video calls and WhatsApp. We thought we might have an opportunity to play last year, but it didn’t work out. But we are finally all together again, and there’s been so much excitement. Every team has had to adapt during this pandemic, so we’ve done the best we can to make sure we are ready and prepared for this weekend.
“It’s been great to have so many guys from World Cup group, but also some new faces, and the alignment camps were extremely beneficial, everyone was involved in those whether you were in South Africa or overseas.
“It’s helped us become aligned with the gameplan, while we’ve now spent time together in camp to ensure we all know exactly what we need to do. There is really healthy competition among the players, and it’s all about ensuring the team succeeds, that’s the No 1 thing. We want to ensure our combinations and systems are working.”
Earlier this week, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named 18 World Cup winners in his match-day squad to face Georgia, 12 of whom featured in the 32-12 final triumph against England, while six of those dozen will start.
Meanwhile, Rosko Specman, Aphelele Fassi and Jasper Wiese are in line to make their Springbok debuts, and Kolisi said there was an increasing sense of excitement among both the newcomers and more experienced Boks.
“Hopefully we can put smiles on people’s faces again, because we are so excited to be on the field again. This is what we love doing, and it’s a huge privilege for us to do what we love, and for as long as we can.”
Kolisi added that the Boks’ focus would be solely on Friday’s clash with Georgia, insisting that they first need to take care of business in the warm-up matches before turning full attention to the Lions.
‘My expectation is just to “Let the main thing stay the main thing”, to do my main part and to give of my best for the team … nothing beats the warrior work, doing the thing that no one notices, cleaning a ruck when no one sees or whatever it may be.
“We’ve looked back at footage of the try Makazole Mapimpi scored in the World Cup final. That came after the work RG [Snyman] did at the ruck, which opened up space on the blindside. It’s that sort of stuff, which others may not notice, but as coaches and players we do see it.
“We want to do the hard yards to allow for players to have the confidence and freedom to do what they are known for.”