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Friday, April 12, 2024
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RSA team announcement (v SCO): head coach Nienaber, captain Kolisi, Willemse, Wiese, Mostert

TOULON – South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber, captain Siya Kolisi, full-back Damian Willemse, number eight Jasper Wiese and second-row Franco Mostert react to the unveiling of their team to face Scotland at Stade de Marseille on Sunday.

Jacques Nienaber, head coach

On naming his team so early in the week:

“We announce our team very early in the week. The players know on the Monday already and we would probably like to announce it on a Monday if we could but unfortunately my personal programme on a Monday is just too busy.

“We get it out as quickly as possible. We don’t believe that it has any bearing on people knowing the team or not knowing the team.

“If you look at Chasing the Sun (a documentary) of the last World Cup, I don’t think there’s people who don’t know how we operate in the Springbok environment. We are as transparent as we can be.”

On the excitement of being part of a World Cup:

“The local people here in Toulon have really embraced us as a team. When we go to the different training venues there’s hoots and waves and cheers. The people are incredible.

“A World Cup always has a vibe. When I was part of my first World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand, that’s the thing that blew me away, the whole excitement from the fans and the people streaming into the towns where you’re going to play.

“When we walked back from training on Thursday, there were South Africans sitting here in front, cheering. It’s nice to see the support flocking in and getting ready for the match. World Cups are always incredible.”

Siya Kolisi, captain

On the experience of playing against France at Stade de Marseille during the November internationals in 2022:

“It was probably one of the best atmospheres I have ever played in outside South Africa. How close and how tight the Velodrome is, it’s really amazing. I’ve heard from soccer players how intense it is when they go play there in an away game but I saw it myself.

“I think everybody should get that experience to play there. It’s obviously different when you play against France, it was just next level, but it was beautiful.”

On the reception the team received in South Africa after winning Rugby World Cup 2019, and if there is pressure on the team to defend the title:

“It’s never pressure. We speak about it bluntly and honestly. Coach Rassie [Erasmus] spoke to us before the final about what pressure is and how much an honour and a privilege we have, because we’re doing what we love and we’re able to make people feel that way.

“I will never forget; when we won in Japan, it was special, it felt great. But when we landed in Johannesburg – I’m actually getting goosebumps. I’ve never seen anything like that. The airport was, I think, under emergency because everybody left their working stations, they just wanted to see us.

“That is the kind of energy that drives us, the kind of energy that reminds us who we’re doing it for and why we’re doing it.

“We’re all different, that’s why it’s so nice to have such a diverse group. We represent different things, we play for different things, but the one thing that brings us together is South Africa and the people of South Africa. That’s who we want to represent. It’s a huge privilege and honour for us to play for them.”

Jasper Wiese, number eight

On starting in his first game at a Rugby World Cup:

“Just the other night my brother sent me a message when the team came out, and he said ‘that’s every boy’s dream’.

“My journey has been very special. It’s surreal sometimes but a massive privilege to represent the Springboks at a World Cup. The excitement’s too much – I can’t put it into words.

“I can promise you I wasn’t imagining sitting here four years ago. When you watch the World Cup in 2019 – even when you’re not a part of it, it’s a massive honour and a privilege to see your country win a World Cup.

“That weight on your shoulders is a privilege. It’s a privilege to represent your country and to play for the people in South Africa. We know how much rugby means to them.”

Damian Willemse, full-back

On negating the threat of Scotland’s star fly-half Finn Russell:

“We’ve prepared really well this week in terms of making plans for what Finn can can do.

“He’s a magician and he’s one of the best in the world when it comes to making plays. We know he can pull anything out of the hat.”

Franco Mostert, second-row

On the support the match-day 23 have had from the members of the squad who won’t feature on Sunday:

“A lot of people don’t see it but they put in the most hard work for the week. They do analysis on Scotland, they do so much work through the week to give us good pictures in the week to be ready on Saturday.

“It plays a huge role for us. The boys who are not playing know that how they train in the week is how we are going to perform on the weekend.”

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