Praise for nervous Kolisi

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi during the test match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park on June 09, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi during the test match between South Africa and England at Ellis Park on June 09, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

New South Africa captain Siya Kolisi was a bag of nerves when the Springboks were blown away by a rampant England in the early stages of Saturday’s first test at Ellis Park but praised his charges for rallying to win a pulsating encounter.

“I was very nervous as we didn’t expect to have such a tough time early in the game, but we have guys who had been in situations like that before,” the first black player to captain the Springboks said after his side had prevailed 42-39.

“Credit to the new caps, because they didn’t panic and showed they just wanted to play, so we decided to take control of the game and it worked,” the loose forward said after his side overcame a 21-point deficit to triumph.

“We obviously would have wanted to start better, but the character the guys showed was amazing.”

The win put a seal on a historic day as the symbolism of Kolisi’s appointment was widely hailed, capped by a standing ovation from the Ellis Park crowd at the end of the game as the debut skipper and his teammates did a lap of honour.

Coach Rassie Erasmus admitted he had made life a little more difficult for the new captain by getting the initial tactics wrong in just his second game in charge of the national side.

He expected England to kick more but was caught out when the visitors attacked the wide channels with relative ease to open a 24-3 lead in the first quarter of the match.

“We thought that with [scrumhalf] Ben Youngs and three flyhalfs in their starting lineup, they were going to kick all day. Tactically, I got it wrong and that surprised the team,” Erasmus said.

“Credit to guys like Siya, who realised that and made the change in tactics.

“We started getting width on our defence and started attacking a lot more.

“I’m really proud. There were a lot of mistakes, but character is something you can build on,” Erasmus said.

The second contest in the three-match series is in Bloemfontein on Saturday, followed by the final test at Newlands in Cape Town on June 23. 

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