VIDEO: Springboks put on notice over discipline
CAPTAIN’S INTERVIEW: Springbok skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi emphasised the importance of good discipline and remaining focused for the full 80 minutes in their Rugby Championship clash against Australia at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
He spoke to the media after the team wrapped up their preparations with the captain’s run on Friday.
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who played at the Adelaide Oval in his days as a BlitzBok, also stressed the importance of being mentally switched on until the final whistle, saying the Wallabies have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with at home.
“All our attention has been on Australia in the last two weeks and we also looked at their matches against Argentina, so we know what to expect from them,” said Kolisi.
“We have prepared well, we know what they are going to bring, and we know what we must improve on going into the game, so it’s going to be a big challenge.”
Kolisi added: “We had a meeting with the referee [Paul Williams of New Zealand], and we understand what he is looking for in the match, and as a team discipline will be key.
“We’ve conceded about seven penalties a match in the last few games, and we know it is going to be a vital area given the small margins in Test rugby, so the entire squad know that they have to stay disciplined for the full 80 minutes.”
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Stick was wary of the threat the hosts posed and said: “If we don’t pitch up mentally, we will be punished. We watched the match between Argentina and Australia two weeks ago and we know it will be the same for both teams this week.
“We need to be ready mentally and physically, and if we do that, hopefully, the scoreboard will take care of itself.”
Commenting on playing at the Adelaide Oval – the first Test the Boks will play at this venue in South Australia – Stick spoke highly of the quality of the pitch and said it brought back fond memories from his BlitzBok days.
“We had our captain’s run at the stadium and the pitch is looking good,” said Stick.
“I know the stadium well from my Springbok Sevens days, and it looks like weather-wise it is going to be a beautiful day. We know it is going to be a tough challenge, but we are excited.”
Of his experience playing at the stadium, Stick said: “This used to be a happy hunting ground for the BlitzBoks, and Adelaide is a lot like Bloemfontein where we also enjoy a lot of support.
“With most of the Australian players also coming from the big cities, this will be new ground for both teams, so we are looking forward to the match.”
Zoning in on the game, Kolisi expected a big battle against the Wallabies’ loose trio and said: “They have strong loose forwards who have been playing well.
“A guy like Rob Valetini has also been playing particularly well, so we know it is going to be about who dominates at the breakdowns and in the set pieces, so we are expecting a big battle.”
Stick, meanwhile, hoped that the backline would have the opportunity to showcase their skills, especially with exciting play-maker Warrick Gelant getting an opportunity on the right wing in a back three with Makazole Mapimpi (left wing) and Damian Willemse (fullback).
“We have a game plan we want our players to bring their X-factor,” said Stick.
“Warrick and all the other players have the freedom to make decisions on the field and with him having played with Damian at the Stormers, we are hoping to see them combine well and show what makes them special.”
The last time the Springboks won against the Wallabies in Australia was a 38-12 victory in Brisbane nine years ago.
Four players on tour featured in that game – Eben Etzebeth, skipper Siyamthanda Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux. All but Le Roux will start on Saturday.
Among the run of defeats were two brutal ones last year on the Gold Coast (28-26) and Brisbane (30-17), and Kolisi said he was again expecting a physical battle.
“We’re excited as a team and we have looked at where we went wrong last year, we didn’t want to look back farther than that,” he said.
“We’ve watched their games against Argentina, and obviously England too, and feel like we have prepared really well for this week.
“We know what we need to sort out and we know what they are going to bring, but it’s always going to be hard, they are playing at home.”
Versatile back Frans Steyn, a 74-Test veteran who is on the bench, said he could not pin down why South Africa had struggled so much in Australia.
“Personally, I thought we struggled a bit more over here than we did in New Zealand back in the Super Rugby days as well, but I am not sure what the reason was for that,” he said.
“Luckily, we have an opportunity to do something special here this weekend, and hopefully we can achieve that.”
* Additional reporting by AFP