Springbok captain Siya Kolisi identifies key to beating All Blacks

South Africa's Tendai Mtawarira, captain Siya Kolisi and Cobus Reinach in Tokyo.
South Africa's Tendai Mtawarira, captain Siya Kolisi and Cobus Reinach in Tokyo.
Image: REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

The battle at the breakdown is the one Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says may well tilt the balance in his team’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) opening match against New Zealand on Saturday.

It of course fits into Kolisi’s personal agenda and the Bok skipper made it clear the team first to the breakdown will steal the march on the opposition.

The All Blacks go into the match with the dual threat of Sam Cane and the more rugged Ardie Savea in their loose trio‚ while the combative hooker Dane Coles also has a knack of attaching himself to the opposition’s ball.

Kolisi is under no illusions about that the fact that the Boks may need all hands on deck in this department.

“I know how good they are‚ I have played against them many times. Sam and I go all the way back to the Under-20s and we have probably learned a few things about each other down the years‚” said Kolisi.

The Boks skipper stressed his team have to be clear on the rules and not leave matters to chance or the whims of referee Jérôme Garcès.

“You can’t wait for the ref to help you at the breakdown‚” he said. “Ardie has the most steals in Super Rugby‚ we just have to get in there quickly. It’s a big focus in the game.”

Savea would not be drawn into any major pronouncements on the subject on Thursday‚ saying he’s just grateful to be on the field wearing the black jersey.

“It is not about having the six on my back‚” said Savea‚ perhaps hinting his role will be a hybrid one that will require carrying duties as well as being on high alert to affect a steal.

“I just have to be clear and light of my feet. I need to work with my instincts and not second-guessing myself.”

Kolisi had no qualms about playing the Springboks’ great adversaries first up.

“It is a good start to World Cup‚ it is good to play them first up and I’m sure they will also think the same thing.

“It is better than waiting and waiting for the game – that way it might get into some of the guys’ heads.”

The Springboks will have an image of former wing Chester Williams embedded in their jersey numbers. Williams‚ a hero from the 1995 RWC triumph‚ died earlier this month at the age of 49 after a heart attack.

“He was from an era that opened up a lot of doors for us and we appreciate everything. Having him on our backs shows our appreciation for everything he has done‚” Kolisi said.

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