Siya Kolisi desperate to ‘put a smile on people’s faces’ in South Africa again amid a third Covid wave… as the Springboks get ready for their first Test since 2019 World Cup triumph when they face Georgia ahead of the Lions series
- South Africa face Georgia on Friday – a match that has been a long time coming
- It is the first match for the Springboks since their 2019 World Cup final triumph
- South Africa are struggling with a third wave of Covid at the moment
- Siya Kolisi knows South Africa playing rugby can provide hope for his country
Siya Kolisi and his Springboks are out to inspire South Africa again, a country struggling with a third wave of Covid, like they did when winning the 2019 World Cup.
The Boks play their first match since that England final this Friday against Georgia, building up to the Lions series later this month.
And after a 20-month wait for a Test, their schedule savaged by the pandemic, Kolisi knows that while cases are rising in his country, South Africa playing rugby can provide hope.
Siya Kolisi (L) and South African face Georgia on Friday ahead of the anticipated Lions series
‘I know the numbers are climbing outside but it’s getting better in different parts of the country,’ the World Cup-winning captain said.
‘We are doing our bit. I think it will help a lot of people just to see something. When we play at the weekend, it brings a good vibe around the country.
‘There have been a lot of people struggling. Hopefully we can put a smile on people’s faces. We are very excited to get on the field.
‘What we do sometimes makes people smile and sometimes gives people hope. People are going through a really difficult time all around the country. Maybe the game won’t make them happy, but we are hoping it can lift one or two people. We will give it our best shot.
‘This is huge for us. We’ve been talking to each other over last year over video calls thinking we might get an opportunity but we didn’t.
The Springboks have not played since lifting the 2019 World Cup after victory over England
‘The excitement seeing each other on Sunday was massive. Every single team has had to adapt. Our management have done a great job in getting us ready, keeping us safe. We’re very excited.
‘We want to play having waited for so long. That is all that is in our heads at the moment. We want to get out on the field.’
Attack coach Mzwandile Stick added: ‘Even in tough times, we want to be good examples. We want to say to the people of the country that we must be positive going forward and make sure we comply with all the restrictions of the pandemic. We all know that we will go through this, we just need to be strong as South Africans.’
Stick, who himself played against the 2009 Lions for the Southern Kings in a tour match, knows the South Africans must take their opportunity of a lifetime when the Lions series rolls round.
‘You only play the Lions once every 12 years – so what are the chances Siya playing against them aged 42?’ said the Boks coach.
‘That shows the honour and privilege of it. It’s massive challenge. Winning the World Cup was very special for us, but having not played for 20 months it’s about time we start from scratch and build new memories.
South Africa’s first Test against the British and Irish Lions will take place on July 24
‘These players are really excited for the challenge. If we don’t create something special for these players they won’t get the opportunity again.’
And Stick rated the Lions’ backs, having seen them beat Japan 28-10 in Edinburgh last week.
‘They’ve got a couple of X factor players, and if you look at their outside backs, jeez they’ve got some special players,’ he added.
‘The youngster (Louis Rees) Zammit, (Josh) Adams, (Anthony) Watson, (Liam) Williams – all those guys have an X factor. Having an experienced player like (Stuart) Hogg gives them a good leader too.
‘The last time they played was in 2017 so for them to start like they did against the Japanese it shows they’re going in the right direction.’