Playful pivots won't cause Boks to drift from script
Kolisi proud of team that features nine black players in starting line-up
The Springboks will on Saturday perhaps have more reason to focus on themselves and their world champion qualities when they clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.
The build-up to the match has been dominated by talk of what crafty Scotland, with Finn Russell at flyhalf, may or may not do tactically. Instead of second-guessing themselves the Boks have focused their energy on — and have been emboldened by — what makes them tick.
“We don't listen much to things that have been said,” said backline coach Mzwandile Stick. “There has been a lot said about the way we play but that doesn't change our style. The most important thing for us is to achieve what we want to on the day in terms of our plan. We must make sure we execute our plan very well.”
We will be up for the challengeBok backline coach Mzwandile Stick
There is of course nothing over-complicated about what the Boks do. They take huge pride in their set pieces, they have a robust kicking game, they defend like Trojans and they bring bone-rattling physicality to the collisions.
“They have physical players and if you give them time and space, especially Russell and at the back (Stuart Hogg), they will punish you. We must make sure that we are physical. It will be tough but we will be up for the challenge,” assured Stick.
Captain Siya Kolisi doesn't need to be reminded of the value of numbing and wearing down the opposition by high velocity collision.
“We never shy away from our physicality. We know what we bring to the game. Whether it works depends how we pitch up in terms of our attitude. We have to do it for 80 minutes,” said the Bok skipper.
We must make sure that we are physical.Bok captain Siya Kolisi
Almost forgotten amid all the talk of tactics this week is the fact that the Springboks will be fielding nine black players in their starting team. It is a fact that also escaped Kolisi.
“When coach Rassie (Erasmus) became coach he stressed winning, transformation and squad depth as our pillars. He was one of the first coaches to speak about it openly. It is one of the team's goals. I love that because then there is no backdoor chat. It is in front of the whole team.
“That is huge because people only talk about it when it is not happening. I'm really proud of that.”
Scotland — Stuart Hogg (captain); Rufus McLean, Chris Harris, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Nick Haining; Grant Gilchrist, Sam Skinner; Zander Fagerson, Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman. Substitutes: Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti, Oli Kebble, Jamie Hodgson, Hamish Watson; George Horne, Adam Hastings, Blair Kinghorn.
Springboks — Willie le Roux; Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies; Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nché. Substitutes: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Jasper Wiese; Cobus Reinach, Handré Pollard, Frans Steyn.
Kickoff: 3pm (SA time)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia). Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Craig Evans (Wales). TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia).