Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks playing for 65 million people against France, says Siya Kolisi

"We love the game and we play for our own personal reasons, but the main thing that brings us together is South Africa."

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says the team is inspired to play for 65 million people back home in South Africa when they take on France in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Sunday night.

It is a huge clash between the number two and three ranked teams in the world and could swing either way, although the hosts will be slight favourites in front of a partisan home crowd.

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However, Kolisi admitted that the Boks will be carried by the hopes and dreams of the supporters back home and that they will never give up as they try to bring joy to the fans.

Big game

“Of course it’s a big game, we all know that. We have experienced it before in Japan and it is difficult. But we find strength in each other, we know we have 65 million people back home supporting us,” said Kolisi.

“We are blessed with gratitude for all the people who believe in this team so much. We are thankful for the people who are opening screens for people to view in the townships and malls because our team represents the whole of South Africa. That is where we get our edge from.

“Of course we love the game and we play for our own personal reasons, but the main thing that brings us together is South Africa. That is who we play for, to make sure we don’t give up, to always give 100%.

“That is what keeps us going, because so many people would give everything to be where we are today, because it influences so many people. We never take it for granted, that is why we put in the work, because we know all those people will be shouting for us.” 

Sharp from the start

The Boks have had a two week break since their final pool match against Tonga, so the team will need to be sharp from the first whistle.

But Kolisi explains that this is something that most of the team have done before and they will draw a lot of experience and confidence from that as they head into the match.

“Our coaching staff have been amazing. They have planned for different scenarios, but as players not a lot changes. It is the same as in the pool games. If we didn’t beat Tonga, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Kolisi.

“A lot of this team has been here before, 90% of our team played at the last World Cup. There are no excuses, we have been here before and will draw a lot of confidence from that.

“We are confident but we know France are also confident and have the advantage of playing at home, so it’s going to be a proper battle.”

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