- Springbok World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi’s team is back on a mission to inspire South Africans with their performances like they did by triumphing in Japan in 2019.
- The country is in the grip of a venomous third coronavirus wave that necessitated a move to level four lockdown last weekend and put many businesses and livelihoods in peril.
- Kolisi said they were privileged to still conduct their jobs in the looming two Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions series.
Springbok World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi’s team is back on a mission to inspire South Africans with their performances like they did by triumphing in Japan in 2019.
The country is in the grip of a venomous third coronavirus wave that necessitated a move to level four lockdown last weekend and put many businesses and livelihoods in peril.
The world champion Springboks, who face Georgia at Loftus on Friday (19:00 kick-off), are some of the country’s few shining lights in a time of huge strife.
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Kolisi said they were privileged to still conduct their jobs in the looming two Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions series.
They, therefore, wanted to use the moment to lift the rest of the country and put smiles back on morose faces.
“This is what we love doing, and we give it everything each day,” Kolisi said.
“It’s a massive privilege for us because we are doing what we love. We do it as hard as we can and for as long as we can.
“And what we do sometimes makes people smile and gives people hope. We all have different stories in the team, and some people relate to those stories, and it gives them hope.
“We can only hope that our performances will put a smile on people’s faces because people are going through a difficult time all around the country.
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“We’ve seen businesses shutting down in the past couple of days. Maybe the game won’t make them happy, but we’re hoping we can lift one or two people.
“We don’t only play for ourselves, or the Springboks, but also our families and the rest of the country – the people that support us.
“Hopefully, we can perform to the best of our ability, and that brings a smile to someone’s face, and we give everything out there.”
South Africa has recorded more than two million Covid-19 cases and 21 584 new cases on Thursday.
A sluggish vaccine roll-out has added to pandemic pressure while corruption wreaks havoc with public funds.
All these issues have been piled on top of rising unemployment rates, especially among youth, which has caused national angst.
The country’s outlook seemed similarly dim in 2019 when gender-based violence was rife.
Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick also noted how the Springboks could lift national morale with winning performances.
“With everything that we’re going through during the pandemic, we want to bring people’s smiles back,” he concurred with Kolisi.
“We always talk about hope. It’s not only when things are going well that we want to be recognised as Springboks. Even through tough times, we want to be a good example.
“Our players have sacrificed a lot to be where they are currently. They don’t spend time with their kids, with their wives and families.
“It shows that there’s a lot of sacrifice behind everything that we are doing, and we want to say to the people that we must remain positive and make sure to comply with all the restrictions.
“We are all going through this, but we just need to be strong as South Africans.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse
15 Davit Niniashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Demur Tapladze, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhaidze, 8 Tornike Jalagonia, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Ilia Spanderashvili, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Gigauri Davit, 3 Giorgi Melikidze, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Guram Gogichashvili
Substitutes: 16 Giorgi Chkoidze, 17 Nikoloz Khatiashvili, 18 Luka Japaridze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Giorgi Javakhia, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Giorgi Babunashvili, 23 Irakli Tskhadadze