“We know the conditions will be hot and humid and the ball will be slippery, so I’m nervous for that game."
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi revealed yesterday, before the team’s departure to Japan and the World Cup today, he feared he would not be fit enough to be considered for the final 31-man squad.
Kolisi picked up a knee injury in the latter stages of Super Rugby and only returned to action a few weeks ago, having missed the entire Rugby Championship campaign, which the Boks won. He played a few minutes for Western Province in the Currie Cup before turning out for the Boks in the Farewell Test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago.
“I’m feeling good (physically),” he said. “But, I was worried at a time, I was under pressure,” said the popular Bok skipper about his injury and getting back in shape to prove his readiness to be considered for the squad.
“The great thing is I was with the squad the whole time. I watched them play and train, I was involved in the meetings and only went back (to the Cape) when they went on tour (to Australasia).
“It was a waiting period for me, and then to see if the knee would hold up. I wasn’t at my best against Argentina, but I’m happy (with the form I showed). I still need a bit more to get back, but these last two weeks (of training) have already helped me, and there are a few weeks more to come. I’ll get to where I need to be.”
Coach Rassie Erasmus said the warm-up game against Japan next Friday – just over two weeks before the Boks’ opening Pool B game against New Zealand – would serve as a final tester for Kolisi and the team.
“Japan will be a tricky outing for us, playing against the hosts at a full-house,” said Erasmus. “We know the conditions will be hot and humid and the ball will be slippery, so I’m nervous for that game.
“It’s going to be important for us though to see Siya out there, get him to play 80 minutes. Also, it’ll allow us to get the guys with a few niggles to play and then we want to see some game-specific things, too. We’ve got a few boxes we still want to tick and the Japan game will allow us to do that.”
On the eve of the Boks’ departure, Erasmus said his squad were as best prepared as they could be. “The planning has been done, we got the support we needed and the players played their part. Conditioning-wise we’re ready … if we don’t do well it’ll only be our fault.”