Sat 13 Nov 2021 | 07:00

'Transformed Boks' know how to win

'Transformed Boks' know how to win
Sat 13 Nov 2021 | 07:00
'Transformed Boks' know how to win
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The topic of transformation was, until recently, one of the most polemical issues in South African rugby.

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Words like ‘quotas’ and ‘targets’ were considered vulgarisms and players detested the terms.

However, the fact the nine players of colour will feature in the Springbok starting XV against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday almost slipped by unnoticed.

Bok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi admitted he was unaware of the racial make-up of the team until it was raised at his pre-match media briefing.

It certainly helps that the team is continuing to win, while being transformed into a more representative unit.

It is also an aspect that pleases the World Cup-winning skipper.

“When coach Rassie [Erasmus – SA Director of Rugby] came in, as well as [head coach] Jacques [Nienaber] and [assistant] coach [Mzwandile] Stick, they stressed [the key pillars of the squad are] winning, transformation and squad depth,” Kolisi told a virtual media briefing.

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“[Erasmus was] one of the first coaches to speak openly and blatantly about it.

“[He said] this has to change. These are part of the team’s goals. He was going to consistently work on it and check on it.

“I love that because then there is no backdoor chat.

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“He speaks to us [about transformation] in front of the whole team. [Erasmus said:] ‘This is how we are going to go, we are going to back people’.

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“The nicest thing about it is, we are prepared.

“If a guy is not good under high balls, coach Stick works with him over and over, until the guy becomes good at it.

“We don’t drop him just because he is not good at it. Maybe he is good at many other things.

“We can speak, as players, we have a platform and we can be ourselves.

“It is not only about the numbers.

“Yes, I am the captain of the team, but inside [the quad] there are many leaders. Every single guy in this team has a role to play.

“Transformation is not only happening because of numbers. The guys are good enough, they deserve to be there.

“That is huge because people only talk about it when it is not happening.

“I’m really proud of that.”

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* Meanwhile Kolisi warned his teammates that the Boks’ recent run of success against Scotland will count for nothing in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The Boks are unbeaten against the Scots since 2010, a run of six straight wins that includes the 30-year-old’s Test debut eight years ago.

But Scotland head into this weekend’s match on the back of a 15-13 victory at home to Australia.

However, just like the Boks ended an eight-year drought against Wales in Cardiff last week, the Scot can do the same.

“It’s a great record we have [against Scotland,] but those records can be broken,” Kolisi told a virtual media briefing.

“For us, we won last week and we hadn’t won in Cardiff for so many years.

“You can look at that for confidence, but you must still pitch up tomorrow and do the job.

“Records are always there to be broken and history is there to be changed, so we don’t want to focus on that. We know what we’re there to do,” he added.

Kolisi expects the Springboks to be tested in all areas by the “strongest Scotland side” of his career, with several members of the home team having played for the British and Lions during this year’s 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.

“They [Scotland] have a very good running game and a very good kicking game,” he said, citing the influence of Scotland playmaker Finn Russell and captain Stuart Hogg.

“We are going to be challenged all around in the game. Their breakdown is pretty good and we saw some crucial steals close to the line.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

 

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