Reuters
5 minute read
2 Aug 2021
06:22

‘It’s game on,’ says Kolisi ahead of series decider against British and Irish Lions

Reuters

Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi says next Saturday’s series decider against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town is potentially more important than their Rugby World Cup final win over England two years ago.

Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi says next Saturday’s series decider against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town is potentially more important than their Rugby World Cup final win over England two years ago.

The Springboks levelled the three-match series with a bruising, ill-tempered 27-9 second-Test victory over the Lions on Saturday, an ugly contest which stretched over two hours with a large number of stoppages for contentious Television Match Official referrals.

“It was the same pressure we felt at the World Cup, but now it is a bit more because this (a Lions series) only happens every 12 years. It’s game on. We are going to go again. Nothing is different. We are just going to try and do what we did even harder.”
Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi

A loss for the Boks would have meant a series defeat and that desperation from both sides, with the Lions hoping to complete the job, showed in a bitty display that at times threatened to boil over.

“It was the same pressure we felt at the World Cup, but now it is a bit more because this (a Lions series) only happens every 12 years,” Kolisi told reporters. “It’s game on. We are going to go again. Nothing is different. We are just going to try and do what we did even harder.

ALSO READ | Springboks to host Argentina in Gqeberha

“Nothing will change for us. We’ve just got to do things better, and in the set-piece try and win more of our balls and get more dominance in the scrums.

“Work harder off the ball. And it’s all about who can control the kicking game.”

South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had launched an offensive on the match officials following the 22-17 first test loss, and there were plenty of contentious decisions again, though this time they appeared to favour the Boks.

“As a team, we go back to what we know with the systems, the structures of the team, working on fixes. Every individual looks at what they need to do. That’s what we went to because you can’t control everything, but what we can apply on the field, that’s what we focused on.”
Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi

Not least was a potential red card for wing Cheslin Kolbe when he upended Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray in the air, but instead got away with a yellow.

Kolisi said the players had put the controversy around Erasmus’s statements to one side and focused only on what they could do on the field.

“As a team, we go back to what we know with the systems, the structures of the team, working on fixes. Every individual looks at what they need to do.

“That’s what we went to because you can’t control everything, but what we can apply on the field, that’s what we focused on.”

ALSO READ | Kitshoff: ‘Boks know how to fight back’

Kolisi had said he did not get the same “respect” as Lions counterpart Alun Wyn Jones in the first Test from Australian referee Nic Berry, but praised New Zealander Ben O’Keeffe for his performance on Saturday.

“I went to Ben before, it was great working with him. He came to me afterwards and said ‘Thank you’. (Assistant) Mathieu (Raynal) as well, the ref for next week.”

After the game it was announced that experienced No. 8 Duane Vermeulen will join the Springbok team at their Cape Town base on Sunday after missing the opening two Tests due to an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, British & Irish Lions fullback Stuart Hogg has denied he bit rival Willie le Roux on the arm during Saturday’s game after accusations surfaced on social media following the match.

“Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night’s game. I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I’ve always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game.”
British & Irish Lions fullback, Stuart Hogg

A scuffle involving most of the players on the pitch took place in an ill-tempered first half, with Hogg and Le Roux squaring up. The Scotsman can be seen with his face buried in Le Roux’s arm, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

“Following speculation that has surfaced online, I would like to categorically deny any foul play in last night’s game,” Hogg said in a statement released by the Lions on Sunday.

“I would never bite an opponent and I am annoyed and upset by this unsubstantiated accusation. I’ve always been proud of playing rugby in the spirit of the game.

ALSO READ | Lions fume over change in TMO

“Respect to the Springboks for their deserved win yesterday (Saturday). The squad is hurting after last night’s defeat, but it’s all to play for next week. It’s going to be a cup final and everyone’s going to be up for it.”

There were a number of flashpoints and incidents of foul play during the match, with both teams reduced to 14 players after yellow cards for the Lions’ South African-born wing Duhan van der Merwe and Bok flyer Cheslin Kolbe.