CAPE TOWN - Following their impressive performance against the All Blacks at Newlands, Springbok vice-captain Siya Kolisi says “everything was just set to perform” for them.
The 24-25 result was the perfect indicator of just how tight the game was, and the Springboks can be proud of the fact that they had the upper hand in a number of areas - especially when it came to physicality - while they also showed intensity on defence, great work at the breakdowns and well-functioning lineouts.
But it might be for that very reason that this defeat will be a tough one to deal withknowing that they came so close to beating the mighty All Blacks, as the lead took turns to favour both sides throughout the match.
Or, maybe, knowing that was the “best” they’ve played in a while will be the factor boosting their confidence.
“I think it’s the best we’ve played. Of course the mistakes let us down and they capitalised, they’re very lethal with that.”
Kolisi also praised his Stormers teammate and Bok skipper Eben Etzebeth’s leadership on the day.
“I’ve never been so proud, and the way our captain led us I don’t think we could have asked any more from him,” Kolisi said. “We knew that the Albany score didn’t define us, so we said we were going to give it everything.
"We didn’t go out of plan or out of system, we didn’t train any differently, we just stuck to our guns, we just wanted to play and get involved. There was nothing special done in training, we prepared the same as we do every week. We just played the way we trained.”
“We said we were going to work for each other. We wanted the win badly. We didn’t need motivation, everything was just set for us to perform. We’ll definitely take a lot of confidence from this going forward.”
What a day to be part of! Thank you so much to these two gentlemen and their team for a tough battle. We didn't get the result but we really appreciate the support from our country it was out of this world ! I'm honestly proud to be part of this @bokrugby team! #upwardsandonwards #thebestisyettocome
A post shared by Siya Kolisi (@siya_kolisi_the_bear) on
The Stormers skipper added that they put special defensive plans in place to keep the Kiwis in check.
“We worked really hard on our defensive system, so we told ourselves that we were going to get off the line and meet them physically.”
Another player who was pleased with the Boks’ efforts was Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The lock started at No 7 at the weekend, and although he hasn’t gone well in the two occasions he’s found himself on the flank, he said he was confident playing out of position on Saturday.
“I felt quite confident playing there. I don’t really care where I play, for this team it’s quite emotional when you get a start, you just want to impress the team and the coaches,” he said.
“I think the guys played with more emotion.”
One player who certainly impressed was loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff.
Kitshoff, who made his first Test start against New Zealand in the absence of Tendai Mtawarira, had a great outing - one that looked just as good as the impact he’s made whenever he came off the bench this year.
And on his Test start, he said: “I’m very happy that I got a start, it’s really a great honour. It was really disappointing not to get a win, the guys gave it their all. I think the okes playing out of position just brought it.
“I’m really proud of the team and the way they played. They gave their all. I think playing at Newlands played a bit of a role. We realised that we needed to pull up our socks, 57-0 wasn’t good enough. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.”