Durban — Springbok captain Siya Kolisi could not have been clearer about what will be driving his team to beat the All Blacks at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday and he says he will personally try and move heaven and earth to achieve it.
“It is simple,” he said. “We have won a World Cup but we have not beaten the All Blacks in South Africa. We have not beaten the All Blacks in South Africa for eight years, and our particular group has never beaten them on our home soil — this is our motivation.
“And for me personally I would love to achieve some history on this ground because this is where I made my debut for the Springboks (in 2013, against Scotland).”
Kolisi’s men came agonisingly close to beating the Kiwis in 2018 at Loftus Versfeld. Earlier in the Rugby Championship that year, they had shocked the All Blacks in Wellington (36-34) and for 78 minutes of the return game in Pretoria they looked like they would do the double, only to lose concentration in the dying minutes and a Richie Mo’unga penalty stole the show for the visitors, 32-20.
“We have discussed that Loftus game at length this week,” Kolisi said. “We thought we had that game won but they came back … the lesson we learnt is that these guys never go away and you have to be constantly alert, beyond the 80th minute and until the very last whistle.
“It can be in the 86th minute when they will suddenly hurt you … They have players throughout their match 23 who are game-breakers, players who can make something out of nothing – we must make sure that no matter what the score-line is we keep playing, keep taking opportunities and just stay aware.
“The All Blacks are so good at sparking up their game … a quick tap in their own half when you are relaxing and next thing they are scoring … “
Kolisi was a lean 21-year-old when he came on a substitute in the Boks win over the Scots on this same Mbombela pitch in 2013, and 65 caps later he wants to make another special memory.
“It is a very special stadium for me. And now this game is absolutely huge for us,” he said. “When I was at boarding school as a kid, we watched the Springboks play in the TV room of the hostel and we dreamed of playing for the Boks against the All Blacks. We wanted to be on the field playing those guys, and now I am one of the lucky ones who gets to do it.
“It is what we live for as South African rugby players.”