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Returning Bok captain Kolisi expecting highly competitive clash from Wales

Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi during the South Africa captain's media conference at St. David's Cardiff Hotel on August 18, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales.
Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi during the South Africa captain's media conference at St. David's Cardiff Hotel on August 18, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick have emphasised the importance of showing Wales the respect they deserve to achieve the desired result when the teams meet at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. 

This Test (4.15pm) is South Africa’s penultimate Rugby World Cup warm-up game. 

Kolisi, who will make a welcome return from a serious knee injury, is expecting a highly competitive match, but he relished the challenge and prospect of donning the green and gold jersey for the first time this year. 

“We respect Wales a lot,” said Kolisi.

“They are similar to us in many ways, because they are hard-working individuals who don’t get things easy. They can take you to dark places, so it’s going to be a tough Test. 

“In the 2019 World Cup semifinal they played similarly to us and, in the end, one penalty goal separated the teams.” 

Stick reiterated his skipper’s message and said: “It’s always tough to play Wales at home. They are tough people with a high work rate and it shows in the way they play. 

“They have a few young players coming through the system and I have no doubt they’ll want to show they deserve to be there. So, we are expecting a tough game.

“That said, the focus for us will be to make sure we build momentum with the Rugby World Cup ahead.” 

Stick added: “They gave us a run in the Castle Lager Incoming Series last year, while they also showed against England that they are moving in the right direction.

“It’s going to be a tough grind and we must pitch up to beat them. They are a team that knows how to play championship games, and if you don’t respect them, they can punish you.” 

Kolisi also spoke highly of Welsh captain Jac Morgan who will steer the ship, saying: “He’s a good leader. He may be 23 years old, but he has good leaders around him that will help him a lot. He’s the kind of guy that wants to lead by example, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing against him.” 

On a personal note, Kolisi was thrilled to run back onto the field after months on the sideline after having surgery to his knee and said he was ready to give his best to the national cause once again. 

“I just want to play and give everything, and we’ll see how long I last (on the field), said Kolisi. “I’d like to play as long as I can.” 

Of his journey to return to full recovery he said: “It’s hard to sum it up. I’m just grateful to be here and thankful to the medical teams I’ve been working with. They’ve been up at all hours to work with me so that it doesn’t disrupt what the team is doing, so it was a big team effort.” 

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