Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has urged South African rugby fans not to give up on the team.
The Boks are feeling the pressure after losing 25-17 to the Wallabies in Adelaide last weekend.
It’s been an inconsistent year for Kolisi’s charges – they scraped past Wales 2-1 in a three-Test home series before beating the All Blacks 26-10 in Mbombela, only to lose 35-23 at Ellis Park the following weekend.
While addressing reporters ahead of Saturday’s rematch against the Wallabies in Sydney, Kolisi said they had worked hard at training to resurrect matters.
He said they focused on improving two key areas – converting their point-scoring opportunities and to start better in games.
“It has been a tough week coming off last weekend’s result, but we’ve prepared as well as possible this week,” Kolisi said on Friday.
“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 flanker said he hoped fans back home would stand by the team: “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 Rugby Championship race.”
Meanwhile, Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick also stressed the importance of finishing opportunities.
“Australia are a tough team, so we need to get into the mindset to convert our chances into points,” Stick said.
Saturday’s Test kicks off at 11:35 (SA time).
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway; 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold; 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Andrew Kellaway
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Warrick Gelant