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Kolisi: Japan loss in 2015 made Boks stronger

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, along with the rest of the Bok squad, will be looking to banish the memories of the 2015 World Cup defeat to the same opposition in what was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

Springbok flanker Siya Kolisi evades a tackle from Argentina wing Sebastian Cancelliere (R) during their 2019 Rugby Union World Cup warm-up match at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, on August 17, 2019. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Siya Kolisi will once again lead the Springboks out when South Africa take on Rugby World Cup hosts Japan in their final warm-up game on Friday.

Kolisi returns to lead the Springbok team for the first time in nine months having suffered a knee injury in the final weeks of the Super Rugby season, forcing him to miss the Rugby Championship.

Kolisi, along with the rest of the Bok squad, will be looking to banish the memories of the 2015 World Cup defeat to the same opposition in what was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

The 28-year-old is one of only eight survivors from that 34-32 defeat and is expecting another tough challenge from the hosts.

“It did make us stronger as a team, but it really put Japan on the rugby map. They have done good things since then. They’re much fitter and stronger and they know their systems and the game they want to play and it’s going to be a whole new challenge for us”, he said.

Kolisi said Japan can threaten in many different areas of the game.

"They’re very strong at the breakdown, they have a strong kicking game – they have a good all-round game and they can turn up the heat at any time of the game and up-the-tempo. They will want to keep the ball in hand and aim for a long ball-in-play time. We have to be prepared for anything. We will stick to what we know best and to our strengths. They will obviously have prepared for us – but in the same way we have prepared for them. We will have to make sure we are on our toes at all times," he said.

The Springboks will take a lot of confidence into the showpiece itself, having won the Rugby Championship, and Kolisi feels that there is added pressure on him because of that.

"Rather than coming back into a team that was losing all the time, I was coming back into a team that was winning, which was extra pressure," he told Japanese media through an interpreter.

"It was tough watching from the sidelines but the great thing was that I was involved the whole time. The coach made sure that I was in all the meetings and I ran the water in one game, which was completely amazing and different; it’s as involved as you can be in a Test match without actually playing. The most important thing for me was just to be a Springbok – because there have not been many of them. To become captain was something extra that I never dreamed of. I am just honoured to be here and I just want to show that I can do the job by the hard I work I do on and off the field and the manner I carry myself," he said.

Kick-off on Friday is at 12:15 (SA time).

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