Siya Kolisi brushed off talk of his 50th Test appearance in tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup final against England, by saying the performance was all about team and country.
Kolisi will lead out the Boks at the Yokohama International Stadium for the Springboks’ third final appearance, fully aware of the weight of expectation in South Africa.
“We have seen the videos and I can’t imagine what it will be like if we win the trophy tomorrow,” he said.
“The president was speaking about it in parliament, asking the whole country to wear Springbok jerseys today and, if you’re in a car, to hoot at one o’clock. We know how much rugby means to our country and what it has done in the past.
“I’m really proud of the way we have performed as a team and it would be a huge moment for us to lift the trophy. Huge for the team, huge for the country.
“I’m very happy that I have reached 50 – not a lot of Springboks have achieved that – but the most important thing is that I do my bit for the team and everything else will fall into place.”
The fact that Kolisi is the first black Springbok captain has added to international media fascination with the team.
Kolisi was asked what it meant to lead a multi-racial Springbok team.
“It is one of our strongest points,” he said.
“That’s something we want to show South Africa; that by the way we play that we can achieve things together as South Africans so long as we buy into whatever we want to achieve and we have the country behind us.
“We have bought into coach Rassie’s plans and we have given it everything. It would be huge to show our country that no matter where we come from, if we can bind to one plan, we can achieve our goals – that’s how important it would be for us as a team or a country to win this.”
Kolisi said that the team was prepared for the challenge and looking forward to the unique experience – for all of them bar 2007 Rugby World Cup winner Frans Steyn – of appearing in a final.
“It’s not just another game; it’s the World Cup final,” he said.
“Not many people get this opportunity and we know that as a team – so the emotions are high. We’ve just got to channel those emotions in the right way.
“It’s a special day for every single guy in the team. We have prepared as much as we can for what we need to do as a team.
“I was very young in 1995 [when South Africa first won the Rugby World Cup] and I don’t remember anything about that although I have seen the videos and the images – it was definitely beautiful.
“I got to experience it in 2007 when I watched and I saw what it did for the country and it does make a huge difference. It is big back at home – I haven’t seen this much support since I have been in the team.
“So we’re going to give it our best tomorrow. We are going to do what we have been doing and trust our plan. It has gotten us this far and we don’t have to change much.
“We just have to give it everything we can. I know what this means to our country.”