Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi takes step into unknown with Canada

Siya Kolisi in action for the Springboks against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last year
Siya Kolisi in action for the Springboks against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last year
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

SA captain Siya Kolisi accepts his side will be taking a leap into the unknown when they face Canada for the first time in nearly 20 years as they look to book their place in the World Cup quarterfinals.

A bonus-point win for the Springboks will all but assure the two-time world champions of entry into the last eight.

Tuesday’s Pool B match at the Kobe Misaki Stadium will be just the third time the two countries have met, and the first since SA’s 51-18 victory over Canada in East London in 2000 – when current Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus was playing for the home side.

Kolisi, who will be starting his third match in four games as he continues his return to match-fitness after a knee injury, said a Springbok side showing 13 changes from the team that beat Italy 49-3 last time had to focus on their own performance.

“We always look at our previous game to see where we made mistakes or where we can improve, and obviously you look at footage of the other teams’ attacking plays,” Kolisi said at the ground on Monday.

“It doesn’t really matter, but it is easier to play against a team that you’ve been playing for a long time, so we don’t really know what to expect from the Canadians.”

The flanker has the distinction of being the first black captain of the Springboks, a significant appointment in post-apartheid SA.

Kolisi, however, said: “I’m just happy to be the captain.

“Being the first black captain isn’t something that comes to mind, I’m just really happy for the huge privilege that it is, and for anybody who comes from my community or any community.

“I just want to represent all of the people there. Just being the Springbok captain is a huge privilege.”

SA could face Japan in the quarterfinals in a repeat of the “Miracle of Brighton” when the Brave Blossoms stunned the Springboks 34-32 in the greatest World Cup upset of all four years ago.

Japan are unbeaten at this edition having produced another shock win with a 19-12 success over Ireland.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said: “At the moment, the focus is just on the game we are playing.

“We know that we might face either Ireland, Japan or Scotland [in the quarterfinals].

“But it’s good to see a country like Japan doing well, especially as the host nation.

“We may call them ‘smaller nations’, but when it comes to the World Cup, they are showing that if you don’t pitch up on the day, you are going to be hurt.” – AFP

Teams

SA: Damian Willemse; Warrick Gelant‚ Damian de Allende‚ Frans Steyn‚ S’bu Nkosi; Elton Jantjies‚ Cobus Reinach; Francois Louw‚ Kwagga Smith‚ Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert‚ RG Snyman; Vincent Koch‚ Schalk Brits‚ Thomas du Toit. Substitutes: Malcolm Marx‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Eben Etzebeth‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit; Herschel Jantjies‚ Handre Pollard‚ Willie le Roux.

Canada: Andrew Coe; Jeff Hassler, Conor Trainor, Ciaran Hearn, DTH van der Merwe; Peter Nelson, Phil Mack; Tyler Ardron (capt), Matt Heaton, Lucas Rumball; Kyle Baillie, Evan Olmstead; Jake Ilnicki, Andrew Quattrin, Hubert Buydens. Replacements: Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru, Matt Tierney, Josh Larsen, Michael Sheppard, Jamie Mackenzie, Shane O’Leary, Guiseppe du Toit

Kickoff: 12.15pm

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