Captain Siya Kolisi has dedicated the Springboks’ upcoming World Cup semi-final against Wales to the people of South Africa.
The Boks take on Wales in the second semi-final with the winner of the clash set to front England – who beat the All Blacks 19-7 – in the final next week.
But according to Kolisi, there is far more at stake than just a place in the title-deciding match.
‘I have seen what winning a World Cup does for our country. I am old enough to remember the 2007 World Cup [then 16] and I remember what it did for the country then and I know what it will do for the country now,’ Kolisi said.
‘We have many different races in our country, and we have 11 official languages. It’s one of the positives in our country; it’s really beautiful and that’s why we’re called the Rainbow Nation. We have different races in the team as well, which is really beautiful, and I think it’s very important for the country for us to do well, and for us as a team.
‘It just shows that when we decide to work together for one goal as a team or a country we can make anything happen. We can achieve all our dreams or goals. That’s why we want to give our best this week and hopefully do the same in the final.’
On behalf of the entire squad, Kolisi expressed gratitude for the support they had received in Japan and also from everyone from back home.
‘We’re proud of our people back home and the people who came last week to support us. There was a big group that one of our team sponsors brought out to support us and that was huge for us to see,’ he said.
‘Another of our sponsors has a big screen in the team room with messages coming from South Africa and we really do appreciate the messages of support coming from back home. We know so many people want to be here but can’t make it and we just want to say that we really appreciate it. We are doing this for them – for South Africa. We’re doing it for all the people back at home.’
Commenting on the match itself against a Welsh outfit that won a Six Nations Grand Slam and briefly held the No 1 world ranking earlier this year, Kolisi said: ‘We know we’re facing a tough opposition but all we can do is focus on what we do best and what got us here.
‘We’re very excited as a team. We’ve worked hard this week. We have prepped as much as we can and given them the respect they deserve. But the most important thing is that we’re effective at what we do – that’s our focus.
‘We lost the first game, so we have been under pressure since then. We have been playing knockout rugby from the beginning but being here for so long has helped us.
‘We’ve got used to the environment, we’ve adapted quickly and got to know what works for you and what doesn’t work for you while you’re here. And we have been improving as a team.
‘I think our team spirit and understanding of one another as a team and knowing what makes each other tick has been really huge for us.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets