UPDATED - RSA team announcement (v NZL): head coach Nienaber, captain Kolisi

UPDATED - RSA team announcement (v NZL): head coach Nienaber, captain Kolisi

Jacques Nienaber, head coach

On being able to focus on the final after World rugby concluded their investigation into allegations against Mbongeni Mbonambi:

“We are fortunate in terms of support of a legal team and everybody who worked behind the scenes. We were shielded from it.

“Where we stay we are almost in our own bubbles. For us it was business as usual and we focused on rugby and that was taken care of in the background.”

On whether he remembers the 1995 RWC final against New Zealand:

“I remember it very well. I remember after the victory we were all in the streets. I was at uni then. I watched it about a year ago. It’s amazing how the game has changed.

“The game has really changed a lot. I think the ball in play was under 24 minutes. It was set-piece after set-piece. The game is a far better product now than it was then."

On the 7:1 split of forwards to backs on the bench and on who will play scrum-half if anything happens to Faf du Klerk:

“The team is not 15, it is 23. We always say that. When you do squad selection there are a lot of things that influence that from medical to past performances and a lot of analysis into New Zealand and where we think we can get the edge on them.

“Then the discussions stars between the coaches and it goes from a 5:3 to a 6:2 to a 7:1, then it goes back again. It is not a 10-minute discussion, it is hours and hours.

“Vincent Koch couldn’t train on Monday and we have a policy that if you can’t train on a Monday you are not up for selection. 

“From a performance point of view, there is not a big gap. As coaches you always mitigate risk by prepping other people.

"In our case it will be Cheslin (Kolbe). He played sweeper in sevens which is the equivalent to scrum-half. He has always been a guy who, if we got a yellow card, would be the stand in half-back, not just this week but for a couple of weeks.”

On whether the 7:1 split on the bench is the best option to face New Zealand:

“I'm not going to say what the strengths and weaknesses of the All Blacks are, that would be stupid. But a lot of analysis went into it and at the end we went with a squad of 23. It could have been 6:2, 5:3, it doesn’t matter. You select a team that you think can get a result. The 23 we selected for a reason, and the reason is we think they can deliver and win us a back-to-back World Cup.

“How did the other guys take it? We explain to the whole squad why we are going a certain route. It is not about individual selection. It is for South Africa. As selectors we know there will be pressure on us if we don’t deliver a result but at the back of our minds we know this selection is for South Africa.

"The players take it like that. It is not about person or ego, not that they have egos, but you can’t think of that. You have to think about South Africa and the Springboks.”

On if he remembers the Rugby World Cup 1995 final with New Zealand:

“I remember it very well. I remember after the victory we were all in the streets. I was at uni then. I watched it back again about a year ago. It’s amazing how the game has changed. 

“The game has really changed a lot. I think there were over 80 kicks in that game. And they played with a leather ball. There wasn’t any lifting in the line-outs so there were a lot of differences back then. The game has really changed a lot. The ball in play was under 24 minutes. There was literally no rugby, it was set-piece after set-piece.

"The game is a far better product now than it was back then, but not taking anything away from the game.”

On if the kicking game will be important given the weather forecast:

“There is a 60 per cent chance there will be rain either just before the game or in the game. We had a semi-final where we were exposed to that. The kicking game will be important, like it is in any final or semi-final, and gaining territory will be important.

“If you look at our team we have got numerous kickers. I don’t think there is a guy who can’t kick in our backs and I suppose a couple of forwards will put their hands up as well. There are a couple of options there.”

On South Africa facing all other teams in the top six in the world rankings up to and including the final:

“In a final it’s about the final. I don’t think the past will have any bearing on what’s going to happen on Saturday.

“Every quarter-final, semi-final is tough. Each test that you play has got specific tests that you have to pass to win the test. It is almost like an exam you write. The one thing that will help us is the character that you build going through those games. That is the one thing we can fall back on, that we were properly challenged in the games that we played and we had to find a way.

"We had to find a way in the semi-final when we were 15-6 down with a scrum in our 22. Fair play to the players - they found a way.

“I think back to 2021, we lost our 100th test match against New Zealand. We were leading until the 78th minute then [Jordie] Barrett kicked an incredible penalty from the left touch line to seal the game.

“We lost against England at Twickenham in the 81st minute, we lost against Australia in Australia in the 82nd minute. There were a few games when the clock was within a few minutes or over 80 minutes and we lost. The learnings we took out of those games helped us in the quarter-final and semi-final.”

Siya Kolisi, captain and flanker

On the prospect of playing the RWC final against New Zealand:

"We actually spoke about it yesterday. It's huge. We've prepared as hard as we can. We know what to expect. I don't think as a player it will ever get any bigger.

"They just turned it around quietly, behind the scenes they were doing their work and now they are here. We had to find our way too.

"The way that the coaches went the last year or so, we played over maybe 50 players to try and find the best."

"I don't think it's stuff that you can dream about because it doesn't happen often. I don't think it will happen in our lifetime again to have two teams like this."

On his support for England's Tom Curry:

"I have spoken to him, I sent him a message. He is someone I respect.

"We can take it as players, when it comes to us directly it's fine, but when it comes to your family it's totally different and that's exactly what he said to me.

"It's the one part of the game we really don't enjoy.

"I hope obviously it stops and he was able to prepare fas much as he could for the game that he's playing tomorrow.  

"I have let him know we are supporting him, we are thinking of him."

On the whole squad buying in fully to the selection:

"It's not about me. I can be disappointed for a little bit but I know the bigger thing (is) if we win. 

"Those decisions get made and you find, am I going to sulk for me or am I going to think of the bigger project?

"When we win, South Africa wins. It doesn't say this guy started or this guy kicked the winning penalty. When they write the name on the trophy they say South Africa. 

"Handre (Pollard) covers 12. He can play 12. Something happens to Doogz (Damian de Allende), Handre can shift in. Those decisions get made because Damian Willemse can cover 10 and 12 and 15. And Cheslin (Kolbe) can play scrum-half, full-back and wing. 

"When they pick the team they don't just announce it, they explain to us all the situation. We make peace with it. 

"For a guy like Manie (Libbok), he really wants to play. He was disappointed but he became Richie Mo'unga (All Blacks fly-half) for the team and gave us the best pictures we could get because he knows that's the role he is asked to play for this specific game, as Handre (Pollard) had to do, as Marvin Orie (did), who has been amazing us. Everybody has a role to play. 

"That's just how we see it as a team, it's far bigger than us."

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