VIDEO: 'It is down to business'
South African coach Jacques Nienaber has frequently stated the significance of getting off to a winning start in their World Cup title defence.
The Springboks start their Pool B campaign against Scotland in Marseille on Sunday – followed by encounters with Romania, pre-tournament favourites and top-ranked Ireland, as well as Tonga.
Not surprisingly, the players are singing from the same hymn sheet.
Bok wing Cheslin Kolbe described the defending champions’ clash with Scotland as a “Final”.
“We approach every game as a Final,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “Scotland is our Final.
“All our energy and focus is going into this game on Sunday.
“They have been unbelievable in the Six Nations and the warm-up games.
“The type of rugby and the brand they play is to give the ball some air.
“Having some great individuals in that squad makes it interesting.”
With a few South African players in the Scotland squad – like Duhan van der Merwe, Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel, along with the former Stormers star Huw Jones – the Boks won’t get away with speaking any Afrikaans to keep their calls ‘secret’.
However, Kolbe said that doesn’t matter much, as they are single-minded in their determination to start their World Cup title defence with a win.
“When you are on that field, it is all down to business and staying in the moment.
“We don’t want to get distracted by any sideshows.
“We might have a beer or two [with the Scotland players] afterwards.”
Kolbe said he can ‘guarantee’ that there will be an “unbelievable atmosphere” at the famed Stade de Marseille.
He added that it was great to be back in camp with the Boks.
(Cheslin Kolbe previews the Boks’ World Cup opener …)
“I’m looking forward to a great World Cup,” he said.
Playing in France is certainly not new to the 29-year-old.
Kolbe won both the European Cup and the Top 14 with Toulouse during his four-year stay (2017 to 2021), before joining Toulon – where the Boks based themselves this week.
“It is good to be back in the lovely city of Toulon,” he told @rugby365com.
Kolbe’s recall to the left wing was one of four changes to the starting team that dismantled New Zealand 35-7 at Twickenham in London in the build-up to the World Cup.
Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse are on the wings and Damian Willemse is at fullback ahead of Willie le Roux.
The other switches saw Jasper Wiese start at No.8 ahead of veteran Duane Vermeulen, who’s on the bench along with Le Roux.
Wiese is the only change in the forward pack, where the other seven starters played some part in the 2019 World Cup final.