Bok captain Siya Kolisi: Losing today was really hard, because we felt we were in there
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It was such a monumental turnaround from the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday that even captain Siya Kolisi was not sure about how the South Africans lost the match 19-17.
Where they had looked lacklustre in the two defeats to the Wallabies, the Boks played with characteristic physicality and energy in defence to force New Zealand into mistakes.
It disrupted the Kiwis’ attacking style, and the South Africans’ pressure game resulted in a 17-16 lead with just a few minutes to go in Townsville.
But they just weren’t able to secure the victory in the end.
“To be honest, I can’t tell you. I can’t fault my teammates, and I can’t fault my coaches with the preparation. I can’t tell you where it went wrong in the game, but our plan worked,” Kolisi said in the post-match press conference.
“They contested our mauls well and stopped our mauls at times, and I thought our scrums were very good today. I don’t know where we went wrong, to be honest – I will have to look at the video.
“It definitely does hurt. But we can’t think too far ahead of what we will leave behind. We focus on right now week by week, and I felt we prepared as well as we could for this week.
“Losing today was really hard, because we felt that we were in there. We dominated the set-piece – I thought we were good in the scrums. They stopped our maul pretty well. I really don’t know (how Boks lost) – we will have to look at the video. We will have a look at the game, see what went wrong and what we can do to get better.”
And even though the All Blacks won, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they have nightmares of being hunted down by Kolisi, such was the impact from the No 6 flank at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday.
The 30-year-old was all over the pitch in Townsville as he got into the face of the Kiwis with crunching tackles, contesting breakdowns and carrying the ball strongly.
It was arguably the finest display in his 59 Tests, and nearly helped the Boks to a famous victory in the 100th match between the two teams.
“He was good! He was brilliant. I thought the players had a big step-up. I thought last week – and it wasn’t the players… It was me, us as coaches, we all probably were at fault last week. I will put my hand up first and say it wasn’t a great performance, and I’m not talking about the players,” Bok coach Jacques Nienaber said about Kolisi.
“I thought we were much more on-song in terms of our preparation – I thought everybody was excellent. Big contributions, even from the guys that weren’t playing. It’s tough to sit here for six weeks and not get a chance or a start.
“But that’s how life is now in Covid: you can’t get somebody in on a flight like normal, and you are sitting with a bigger squad. Not everybody has the chance of playing, so to be positive and adapt to that, everybody did excellently. Everybody is trying to make it work. It’s different, it’s tough.”
The Boks will finish off their Rugby Championship campaign against the All Blacks next Saturday at the Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast (12.05pm SA time kickoff).