Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says Saturday’s ‘trials’ will mark the beginning of a new era with a host of youngsters getting their opportunity to impress. DYLAN JACK reports.
A host of up-and-coming players, along with some senior Springboks and players returning to the national fold, will be in action when two 25-man squads head into action at Newlands this Saturday.
There will be a number of players in both squads who would have experienced their very first week in a senior Springbok environment.
The Springbok Showdown itself will in a sense serve as some sort of national trials, giving players the opportunities to put their hands up for the upcoming Rugby Championship – should the Boks take part.
However, as Kolisi outlined in the captain’s press conference on Thursday, the week’s buildup has also served a greater purpose in exposing the younger players to what it takes to be a Springbok.
‘I was excited to see them. I was so happy and excited to see them all,’ Kolisi said. ‘I was also a young gun in 2012 and I got a good taste of it. It was quite amazing. You just feel and see what is happening that whole week and it just makes you want it more.
‘I am hoping that we were welcoming to the guys. They loved the environment, from what I’ve heard. That was the message that I got from guys like Evan Roos, before he left, and now JJ [van der Mescht] is getting to play. So I am really excited for that.
‘Speaking to them made me realise that I actually want them to want to be a part of this group and see how amazing it is, that everybody has a voice and that’s how the coaching staff speaks as well.
‘The guys loved it and they know exactly how to make the team. There are no grey areas, they know this is how you make the team. They also have guys like Lukhanyo [Am] when they go back to their unions who can remind them. They can see what the standards are.
‘I am looking forward to seeing them and I know a lot of them can make it. Myself, Arno [Botha], Frans [Malherbe], we were all young guns at the same time and we all got to play.’
Kolisi added that with the 2019 World Cup firmly in the past, Saturday’s match will allow the Boks to start fresh.
‘It is the beginning of a new era for us. We are chasing a new sun,’ Kolisi explained. ‘The World Cup seems so far away. So we have to start off fresh now. It has been great seeing new faces, chatting to the guys and just letting them know what kind of work we are doing.
‘That’s what we have exposed them to. What a week looks like in a Springbok environment. How the messages come in the day before a match and how you prepare. It’s mostly the work that you do in the evening, looking at all your plays. Anybody can do the physical work, but you must still have heart.
‘I think a lot of the guys will take that away from this week, especially the young guns.’
Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images