Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said his team had to break out of the blocks with intensity from the get-go in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Estadio Libertadores De América in Buenos Aires in their penultimate match of the competition on Saturday.
The Springboks need to win the match and preferably with a bonus point to remain in the title race and Kolisi and Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick were bracing themselves for a big battle.
“It helped a lot in our preparation that we could adapt to the conditions and time zone in Argentina over an extended time and also to have time to explore and experience the similarities between South Africa and Argentina,” said Kolisi.
“We are expecting a tough battle against the hosts, and we know have to bring as much intensity as possible from the outset because they start games strongly.”
Kolisi added: “We had a good week-and-a-half of training and a few days off as well last week, so we are looking forward to the clash.”
Stick spoke equally highly of Los Pumas and said: “Argentinean people are very passionate about their country, and there is a lot of motivation around what they do. They also play for their supporters so we know that if we don’t pitch up on the day we can get punished. We saw what they did against Australia.
“There are no easy games in this competition, so we must be switched on. They selected a strong team, and we know what we have to be prepared for.”
Stick was excited to see the same backline in action with Damian Willemse earning another start at flyhalf and said building momentum was vital for the team.
“The main thing for us is to get better in the way we play,” said Stick. “It is also good to have players such as Damian and Willie (le Roux) that like to take opportunities, so if Argentina lifts the intensity, we’ll be able to adapt to that world.”
Stick said he was excited to see Willemse getting another run at flyhalf: “I’m happy to see him get another chance to play No 10. He’s a special player and he is becoming more mature in his game. I’m happy to see him grow as a player and hopefully he’ll get even better.”
Kolisi emphasised the importance of protecting the ball at the breakdowns against a strong Argentinian loose trio and said: “It will be important to stick to our game plan. Their loose forwards are all good and off the ball, so we need to look after the ball at the breakdowns and make sure we make use of the opportunities we create in the match.”
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]