Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has reiterated that the world champions are driven to maintain their high standards going into the Rugby Championship. DYLAN JACK reports.
Following a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions, the Springboks will begin the defence of the Rugby Championship title they won back in 2019 with two successive fixtures against Argentina, starting this Saturday in Gqeberha.
The tournament presents the Springboks an opportunity to build on their World Cup and Lions series victories, given how their progress as a team has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which prevented them from playing in 2020.
Even though this Bok side has got two great major tournament victories in the bag, questions will be asked as to whether they can back that up in the build-up to the 2023 World Cup.
Speaking during an online press conference on Friday, Kolisi emphasised that they don’t want to be known as one-hit wonders.
“If we had no Covid in 2020, our goal was to maintain number one and consistently stay there,” Kolisi said. “That’s our goal, to be number one for as long as we can.
“That’s been the drive for us. We don’t want to be a one-off and then disappear. We knew we were going to be tested.
“When you come in here, you are pushing for spots, but you also remember that our number one goal is to make sure the team is the most important, making sure we stay at number one.
“So whoever is chosen, if you don’t get chosen, you don’t drop your head for the whole week, you still help the guys that are there, playing in your place. We want to be number one for as long as we can, we want to win games and win trophies.”
The Springboks will go into their clash against Argentina with a much-changed side from the one that played in the final Test against the Lions, as the coaching staff has opted to give a few of the first-choice players a chance to de-load, while also presenting opportunities to those who did not get much game-time in the Lions series.
Overall, six changes have been made to the backline, with the likes of Damian Willemse, Aphelele Fassi and Sbu Nkosi coming in, while there is a starting debut for hooker Joseph Dweba.
Despite it being less than a week since the Boks tasted victory in the Lions series, Kolisi says the team has cast their full attention to the challenge posed by the Pumas.
“It hasn’t been tough at all because we made that decision on Sunday already. We enjoyed ourselves and celebrated, but on Sunday already we had clips of Argentina, our coaching staff had done that long before.
“We know that this is going to be a completely different challenge, so we can’t allow ourselves to prepare any less than we did before. Also, our training has been a bit different, which has been really cool. We have trained to adapt to the way that Argentina play and make sure we get our gameplan going.
“It’s a great opportunity for the guys who are getting their opportunity. Joseph is getting his first Test start. There are also guys at the back who are getting opportunities. Aphelele and Sbu are back again. The guys are hungry. They really want to play. They will bring the energy this week.
“So we are looking forward to this one. We can’t still be thinking about last week because that’s gone now. Argentina are here and they will want to prove a point.”