Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Breakdown battle vitally important, says Springbok captain Siya Kolisi

Both teams and their management have changed drastically since their last meeting in 2017.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi believes that the breakdown is going to play a vital role in the outcome of their European end-of-year-tour match against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (kick-off 7:30pm).

The Bok loose trio of Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jasper Wiese are set to get a stern test against Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris, and whoever comes out on top could swing the game in their sides favour.

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“I think the breakdown is going to be very important this weekend. With the loose forwards that they have and what they have done in the past. Their lock Tadhg Beirne and prop Andrew Porter are also very good at the breakdown,” explained Kolisi.

“So that is going to be important in them securing the ball and us trying to slow their ball down because we know they play a lot of phases. They don’t mind going through 15 plus phases, but we trust our defence, we have done it before and I believe we will do it again.

“So it’s all going to be about patience in the game and making sure that we are disciplined during those phases. Johnny Sexton has a big boot, so if we give away penalties he will put us back in our 22m. So I think the breakdown and our discipline is going to be very important.”

Changed drastically

This is the first time that both teams are playing each other since the Boks 2017 end-of-year-tour, when Ireland claimed a thumping 38-3 win over them.

However both teams and their management have changed drastically since then, and this game will be more interesting in that they will also meet in the pool stages of next year’s World Cup, so it will be interesting to see who has the upper hand.

“I think for us this game is more about gaining momentum ahead of the rest of the tour and obviously the coaches have plans on what players they want to see,” said Kolisi.

“But this game is also important because we will meet them in the World Cup. We haven’t played them in a long time and they are the number one team in the world. So we want to see where we are and playing against the best team in the world at the moment will give us a good indication of that.

“The result might make an impact, with one of the teams having gone one up on the other a year out (from the showpiece event). The World Cup is very different when you get there, but I think it will be good if we can pull through this game.”