Kolisi: “Playing Ireland is as big as it gets”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi declared on Thursday that facing Ireland, the No 1 team in the world, is “as big as it gets” as the defending world champions prepare to face the Irish in one of the biggest duels in the Rugby World Cup thus far at the Stade de France in Paris in their round three pool match on Saturday.

The match will have a pivotal influence on determining the Pool B quarter-finalists, as well as having the No 1 world ranking up for grabs. Kolisi and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber looked forward to the encounter and admitted that it would be an epic battle.

“This is as big as it gets,” shared Kolisi. “They are the No 1 team in the world, and we are playing them in a World Cup. They’ve won 14 games in a row, and it will take a top performance to beat them. It is going to take something special to get out of this pool,” said Kolisi.

Kolisi added: “We took a lot from the last match we played against them. And both teams are playing well, so this is a good time to face them. We want to play nice, competitive rugby and I believe the match will be tough and played in a good spirit.”

While Kolisi spoke about the importance of the breakdowns, Nienaber said good discipline would also be vital.

“The breakdowns are going to be big,” said Kolisi. “They have a lot of players who are effective in that department and I think that will have a big influence on the game.”

Speaking about discipline in the match, Nienaber said: “When you have the top two teams in the world playing against one another discipline will be very important. If you concede penalties against a team like Ireland they’ll either get territory or points, so they’ll put us under pressure. We must be disciplined to get the right result.”

Nienaber named a seven-one split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench for the encounter and when questioned about the various reactions to the team announcement, the Bok coach said: “Innovation in any sport will trigger a reaction. This is the first time it’s done in rugby and that will come with positive and negative reaction, but nothing is stopping other teams from doing it. It would be a sad day if innovation is stopped, especially when it is within the laws.”

The match kicks off at 21h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

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