The Springboks will be desperate to win to end coach Rassie Erasmus’ first season in charge, having won half of the 14 Tests played, but more importantly it will be the last chance for the players to impress ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, according to captain Siya Kolisi.
With only four Tests left before the World Cup kicks off, Kolisi says they want to bring the curtain down on the season with a memorable performance that will place them at the front of the queue as Erasmus ponders which players will make up his squad to Japan.
“We are pretty excited but it is tough at the same time because we know that we won’t see each other for a while. A lot of guys want to make sure that come next year the coach has a good memory of us and the last game we played. This is the one game that we’ll remember, obviously, until we play again so the guys are keen to play,” Kolisi said.
Having lost on their last three visits to Cardiff, and also in the last three Tests they played against Wales, the Springboks believe they have it in themselves to close the door on Wales being their bogey side, as long as they stick to the principles that has seen them show glimpses of the great side they can be.
Kolisi feels they are a different side to that which got beaten last year and the year before under the mentorship of former coach Allister Coetzee, and that they work for each other and there is belief within the side again.
“Hundred percent we are different . It’s not even that some players are available, I just think the way we do things is different.
“Obviously we have a different coaching staff so they’ve changed quite a lot of things. We work a lot harder than we did and we believe a lot more than we did. When you have been measured on one thing only which is hard work that is what we pride ourselves on,” said Kolisi.
Kolisi, though, is under no illusion of the beast that faces them in the Welsh dragon and their impressive record of eight unbeaten games should be warning enough of what awaits the Springboks.
“They’ve obviously had the upper hand on us and it’s going to be tough like all the other games. I think they are a better team than they were the last time we played them,” Kolisi added.
“I think they work hard for one another and they are well coached. They believe in what they are doing and it shows because they have won eight in a row something must have changed. A lot of their senior players are back and the guys that have been given opportunities are taking them well. It’s a challenge, their pack is good and a very aggressive side and they are going to be different to any team we’ve faced on this end of year tour so far.”@Vata_Ngobeni