Siya Kolisi said the Boks have been working hard at training and that two of the key focus areas this week would be to convert their point-scoring chances into points and to break out of the blocks quickly after slow starts in their last two matches, against Australia and New Zealand.
“It has been a tough week coming off last weekend’s result, but we’ve prepared as well as possible this week,” said Kolisi.
“We left a lot of opportunities out on the field in Adelaide, and we are hurting as a team, so we know we need to make sure we play better this week. We’ve pointed fingers at ourselves, and it has certainly been an emotional week for us.”
The Springbok flanker added:
“As a team we understand our South African fans’ frustration and we accept that they are upset. We feel the same frustration and we would like to urge them not to give up on us. We’ve worked hard this week at training, and we’ll do our best this weekend.
“We certainly want to be as consistent as possible, and we know that we need to start this match with more intent. We must be better this weekend or else we will be out of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship race.”
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick also stressed the importance of using their opportunities this week after creating several last week, and said: “Australia are a tough team, so we need to get into the mindset to convert our chances into points.”
Stick and Kolisi were both thrilled to see talented 19-year-old utility back Canan Moodie named in the side for what will be his Test debut, which will see him become the second-youngest player to become a Springbok since re-admission in 1992.
“We are excited to see what he can do,” said Stick.
“He put in some physical hits in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and it’s good to see him get this opportunity. He will face a challenge going up against Marika Koroibete, but he has a lot of experienced players around him and I know he’ll be up for the challenge. I’m not worried about him at all.
“We are very proud of what he has achieved, and I am sure his family is very happy for him as well.”
Kolisi also had full faith in the young player’s ability to make his presence felt and said: “I helped Canan this week as well and it is great to see how he eager he is to learn and to do extras.
“It was great to see what he did against us (the Cell C Sharks) in the quarter-final of the Vodacom URC. A person would not have said he was still at school a little while ago, so I’m definitely not nervous for him.”
Of the injuries to Lukhanyo Am (centre) and Handre Pollard (flyhalf), Stick admitted that while it was a blow and sad for the players, there were positives in that Jesse Kriel (centre) and Damian Willemse (flyhalf) would get a chance to start against Australia, which will boost the team’s depth with an eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“It is not nice to lose players to injury and losing players such as Handre and Lukhanyo, who are key players in our system, was a big loss,” said Stick. “But Damian (Willemse) and Jesse have done the job for us before, so it was an easy call to make.
“Jesse has been part of our system for a long time, and he’s one of the most capped players in the group. He has played at wing for us, but I think he is excited to get a run at centre, and we trust him 100%.”
Of Willemse starting at flyhalf, Stick said: “Damian Willemse is a very special player, and he brings a lot of energy. He has played flyhalf for the DHL Stormers and he has played there for us before, and it is great to see how he is growing in our game and how his confidence is growing.
“He is a warrior and I know he’ll bring his part on Saturday. I’m also looking forward to seeing him and Jaden (Hendrikse) play together.”
Springboks vs Wallabies: Kick off at 11.35am in South Africa
All Blacks vs Pumas: 9.35am
Both games are live on SuperSport TV