YOKOHAMA – South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has said speed to the breakdown will be a major deciding factor in Saturday's Rugby World Cup opener against New Zealand in Yokohama, where he will come up against a pair of familiar foes.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has picked two ‘fetchers’ in Ardie Savea and Sam Cane for the Pool B clash, pointing to the tackle area as a key battleground in a game expected to be a tight forward tussle.
Kolisi will shoulder much of the responsibility of countering their threat and said the game would be all about getting to the ball on the ground first.
“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 learnt a few things about each other down the years,” Kolisi told reporters in Yokohama on Friday.
South Africa have been talking all week about their hope that referees will show fairness to all sides in key moments during the World Cup, and Frenchman Jerome Garces will have his hands full at the breakdown on Saturday.