Kolisi urged to play another 'captain's innings' in decider

Former Springbok skipper John Smit said that Siya Kolisi's leadership had been crucial in the Springboks’ 27-9 win in the second Test last Saturday.

Springbok captain and flanker Siya Kolisi at the end of the second rugby union Test match between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions at The Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town on 31 July 2021. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

CAPE TOWN - Former Springbok skipper John Smit will be looking to Siya Kolisi to play another "captain's innings" in the decisive third Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.

With the series locked at 1-1, Kolisi has the chance to emulate Smit in leading South Africa to the "double" of a World Cup triumph and a Lions series win.

Smit captained South Africa in the 2007 World Cup and followed that up with victory over the Lions two years later.

"Without a doubt they were the two biggest moments of my career," he said on SuperSport TV. "It will be the same for Siya."

But Smit acknowledged that Kolisi has the tougher task, with the current series going down to the last game whereas Smit's Springboks sealed success by winning the first two games.

Smit said Kolisi's leadership had been crucial in the Springboks’ 27-9 win in the second Test last Saturday.

"You could see how upset and broken he was after the first Test, but he was incredible last week," said Smit.

"I told him it was a real captain's innings, but now he must do it again."

Smit said there was one major factor missing in the 2021 series - spectators.

Recalling the sea of red and green replica jerseys worn by supporters of the two sides in 2009, Smit said the absence of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic had been a blow.

"Everyone, from both sides, was looking forward to thousands of people coming to South Africa, bringing the buzz around the hotels, the bars, the restaurants," said Smit.

"I think it has been replaced by the antics, the mind games and the strategy of the two coaching staffs having a go at each other.

"That's been our supplementary entertainment in terms of what we have missed out on from a normal Lions tour, with all those people, all that noise and all that tension.

"But what we do have is an unbelievably spicy third Test."

Smit said the first two Tests had been a "tug-of-war" between two astute coaching staff and two outstanding squads of players.

Peter de Villiers, the Springbok coach during the 2009 series, also bemoaned the lack of spectators.

"It's tough for the players - and the coach too," he said. "You depend on your crowd to bring to the game the part you can't coach."

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