Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi can’t wait for the world champions and All Blacks to lock horns in a World Cup warm-up clash at the home of English rugby on Friday night.
More than 80,000 fans will flood Twickenham when the Boks wrap up their cup preparations, yet the contest is expected to be anything but friendly, with both teams hungry to lay down a marker in a final dress rehearsal for the global tournament.
New Zealand and South Africa are in the same half of the draw for this year’s World Cup, and the All Blacks have named a matchday 23 with over 1 000 Tests of international experience to take on their traditional rivals in London.
The crunch Test in the English capital will be the second meeting between the old foes this year, after the All Blacks claimed a 35-20 win over the Boks in the second round of the Rugby Championship in Auckland. The Kiwis are currently also on a 10-game winning run.
Speaking in a Bok conference from London on Thursday, Kolisi told reporters: “[All Blacks team selection] shows what their intent is. This is not a friendly game, we never had a friendly match against the All Blacks.
“We are all excited and looking forward to the battle, it’s going to be physical as usual.
“We’re not going to hold back at all, we’re gonna go all out. I don’t think we’ll ever going to get this opportunity in our lifetime again to play [the All Blacks] outside the World Cup in the northern hemisphere and we don’t want to disappoint people who paid money for this.”
On the spectacle of playing the men in the black at a sold-out Twickenham, as well as the attraction for what is essentially an exhibition match, Kolisi added: “Because it’s probably the biggest rivalry in sporting history. There are a lot of South African people living in the UK.”
The Kiwis built their win in Auckland on a sensational opening 20 minutes, during which they dominated the collisions and the kicking game to claim all the momentum, and forced the Boks into errors to open up a 17-point gap.
“We are going to go flat out so that you know what works and what doesn’t work,” Kolisi said. “We are up against one of the best teams in the world, so that’s why you want to go flat out.
“I hope it’s an ugly, tough game, but beautiful at the same time.”
Photo: Brenton Edwards/AFP