Siya Kolisi will lead the Springboks into battle against Japan in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal in Tokyo knowing all too well what defeat against the Brave Blossoms feels like.
Kolisi was, after all, among the substitutes when the Boks were stunned by Japan in their opening pool match of the 2015 World Cup in Brighton.
It remains one of the greatest upsets rugby has ever seen, and it started a Japanese revolution that has seen this year’s host nation qualify for their first-ever World Cup quarter-final.
Speaking to media on Friday, Kolisi acknowledged that the 2015 defeat to Japan had been difficult to take for the Boks back then.
“That was very tough to lose that match in England. That stuck with us until that game when we got here (before this World Cup),” the skipper said.
“It’s something that we never want to go through again.”
Kolisi was referring to the warm-up match the sides played ahead of the 2019 showpiece, with the Boks running out 41-7 winners there.
“But they are a much better team now, and it was good to play that game before the World Cup, just to get that monkey off our back,” he said.
“Now it’s a different game again. We are going to have to be at our best again, because they have really improved as a team – they are much better now than four years ago.
“So, we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Kolisi was also informed that 1995 World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar would be in attendance at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.
“Oh, I didn’t even know he’s here! It’s the first time I’m hearing that, and it is exciting and good to know,” he said.
“It’s awesome to have guys like that – John Smit (former South Africa captain) is also here to support.
“It really means a lot to us, as players, that guys who have done it before are supporting us and does boost the players.”
Kick-off on Sunday is at 12:15 (SA time).
15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 James Moore, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Koo Ji-won, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki
Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Isileli Nakajima, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Lomano Lava Lemeki
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn