Boks primed for victory – Siya Kolisi

Captain downplays Mbonambi’s much-discussed substitution as SA prepare to face the mighty All Blacks

South Africa's Siya Kolisi (R) beats the tackle of Australia's Peter Samu (L) during the Rugby Championship Test match between the Wallabies and the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on September 8, 2018.
South Africa's Siya Kolisi (R) beats the tackle of Australia's Peter Samu (L) during the Rugby Championship Test match between the Wallabies and the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on September 8, 2018.
Image: Patrick HAMILTON / AFP

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, ahead of the Boks meeting the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, revisited last weekend’s much-discussed incident when hooker Bongi Mbonambi was substituted early in the game against Australia.

Kolisi said in his pre-match press conference to the Rugby Championship match-up against New Zealand that coach Rassie Erasmus’s decision on Mbonambi had been taken for the better of the team.

Mbonambi was given a rare start against the Wallabies, but was replaced just after the halfhour mark by Malcolm Marx shortly after a lineout throw mistake that involved Kolisi and resulted in Australia’s second try.

Fans critical of Erasmus have argued that the move will damage Mbonambi’s confidence.

Kolisi, however, played that aspect down by saying any player could be replaced during a match, including himself.

“The good thing about our group is that we always know what is going on and the coaches make decisions for the better of the team,” Kolisi said after the Boks completed their preparations for their clash against New Zealand.

“It’s all about effort. I have been taken off a lot of times after the 60th minute. It is not ideal to take off the captain so early in the game, but if I am tired, there is always someone on the bench with fresh legs who can come on and add more value.”

Kolisi said Mbonambi understood the decision to replace the hooker.

“What I like about our group is that there are no egos or anything like that.

“If you are tired or you are not in the game, you will be taken out regardless of whether you are the captain, or if you have 100 caps or one.

“Obviously you will be disappointed, but at the end of the day you know that it is in the best interests of the team.”

Having addressed the controversial incident, Kolisi focused on the All Blacks, where the Boks are looking for their first win in Wellington in more than 20 years.

“We feel good and we will stick to our processes. We have a good game plan and coach Rassie wants us to give our best on Saturday,” the skipper said.

“This is a rivalry that has been going on for many years and we know how special it is. We know that they have dominated the game in recent years and we know that it is a big game. We will give it our best shot.

“It would really be good for us as a team if we won the match, especially away from home. Not many teams have won here in New Zealand and a win will definitely lift our spirits and it will be good for the Championship.”

All Black captain Kieran Read said the Boks would present his team with a different challenge on Saturday.

“Each team around the world have a special plan when they play against the All Blacks,” Read said.

“It is hard to pinpoint what they are going to do, but we will do what we have planned and take it from there.

“We are evolving. Teams present us with different challenges and I expect SA to provide us with a physical one.

“They’ll probably come at us the whole day but we will be all right.”

Teams (15-1)

New Zealand:

Jordie Barrett; Ben Smith, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Liam Squire; Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Karl Tu’inukuafeReplacements: Liam Coltman, Tim Perry, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Jack Goodhue, Damian McKenzie

Coach: Steve Hansen (NZL)

South Africa:

Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven KitshoffReplacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Wilco Louw, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe

Coach: Rassie Erasmus (RSA)

Referee:

Nigel Owens (WAL)

The match starts at 9.35am.

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