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AUDIO: The key area in Loftus showdown

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok captain Siya Kolisi revealed that winning the breakdown battle would be key in his team’s effort to secure a sought-after win over Ireland at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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The Springboks host Ireland in their first home Test since they claimed back-to-back World Cup titles in France in 2023.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the match, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi did not downplay the magnitude of the Test.

The captain understands that there is a massive task at hand as the Springboks seek to finally break their three-match losing streak against the Irish.

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Ireland is the only team to have beaten the Springboks since Rassie Erasmus took over the reigns in 2018.

The last time the two teams met, the Irish recorded a 13-8 win over the Boks in the pool stages of the World Cup.

While there are a lot of challenges that need to be overcome, Kolisi stated that breakdown will be the vital focus point for his team.

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Part of the formidable trio, Kolisi along with Kwagga Smith and Pieter-Steph du Toit have the aim of keeping the likes of No.8 Caelan Doris, flank Josh van der Flier and captain Peter O’Mahony intact.

Kolisi will hope to limit the Irish loose trio’s impact at the breakdown and prohibit them from gaining ascendancy in the area.

“I know he [O’Mahony] is good at a few things and I have to make sure I’m better on the day because as a six I’m playing against openside flank [Josh] van der Flier.

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“And it is not just him [van der Flier] Doris is also good at the breakdown. So I have to fight hard.

“The breakdowns will be one of the big battles [on Saturday].

“In the World Cup, we conceded a few penalties there, and we know that if they get quick ball, they’ll be dangerous.

“From our point of view though, the system protects us, but we must also bring the individual skills that we each offer the team.

“In general, we need to be sharp, get to the breakdowns and advantage line quickly, and make good decisions. We also have to be clinical and physical.”

Kolisi has been in the headlines in recent weeks following the criticisms by the Racing 92 owner.

The French club owner Jacky Lorenzetti said Kolisi had gained weight, lost form and was “invisible” in his outings for the Top 14 team.

And while there were some murmurs around the double World Cup winner’s frame of mind, Kolisi assured that he is in a good space thanks to a Springbok environment.

“I took two weeks off before playing my first game in Paris and I’ve been playing since then for 80 minutes which is something I’m not used to,” Kolisi explained

“It’s good in a way, it keeps me fitter.

“When I first started, I hit the ground running but the injuries did affect me. With the hand injury, I couldn’t run for the first three weeks, and then my hand healed, and my ankle went in the first game after that.

“But right now I feel good and strong, and with the new coaching staff, I’m learning new things again.

“It feels different when one is in the Springbok squad, especially if one looks at the level of detail within the coaching staff and the mentality of the group, and that is something we’ll never take for granted.”

Kolisi was delighted to be bestowed with the honour of retaining the captaincy after leading the team to World Cup victory in 2019 and 2023 in Japan and France respectively.

“It’s not easy [being the captain], but neither it is hard,” said Kolisi.

“It’s a huge honour to be the Bok captain and it is great what it means to the public and team as well.

“That said, each player in the team has a role to play and it’s an honour for us all to represent our country. As coach Rassie [Erasmus] said earlier in the week, the captaincy is not a big thing for this group, what we care about most is what happens on the field.”

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