Johannesburg - Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was all smiles as he arrived back in South Africa after his side’s shock win over the world champion All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.
After all it was around a year ago that Kolisi and his team-mates met the same media after the 57-0 thrashing at the hands of the same team and had to answer for the big loss, according to the supersport.com website.
This time around though Kolisi was naturally a lot happier, but didn’t dwell on it too long before reminding all that it would take a lot more work to make sure this victory - as remarkable as it was - is not a one-off.
“The flight this time was much easier coming home with a win, the last time it was tough. It’s a great feeling. We are excited and happy, but we know there is a lot of work ahead for us,” Kolisi said.
The biggest thing for the captain is to ensure this win doesn’t stay a once-off and that the Boks follow it up with wins in Port Elizabeth against Australia and Pretoria against the All Blacks, the latter who will be seething for revenge.
“That’s the tough part, the part we spoke about after the game. That is what we need to do. We said it’s the best game defensively we played and we took our opportunities. The most important thing now is building from that.
“I think for us, it is a simple thing, we just have to keep on working hard. The coach said it afterwards, our hard work got us the win and a bit of luck. We are just going to keep on working hard and wanting to do the right thing. All the coach asked was to keep on growing. We grew a little bit in this game and that is what we want to keep on growing.
“It was a really big win, and we appreciate the people supporting us out there after two tough games. People still supported us and we don’t take that for granted. It is always good to give something back to the people like the win,” Kolisi said.
The Bok captain played down the preparation, saying the players simply asked for more responsibility in Wellington to take the heat off their coaches.
“We didn’t speak a lot. It was just a regular week. They put more responsibility on the players, they took it off the coaches because we asked for more responsibility so we could do more. It was a regular week for us and we just wanted to play for one another.”
Kolisi said he knew something special was happening on the field and that nerves weren’t that much of a factor.
“To be honest, for some reason I wasn’t too nervous. You know when you know. We felt it and I knew it. I could see the guys were defending well. Obviously you are nervous and sometimes you can get a bit of luck in the game, and sometimes you get that luck in the game. We were nervous but confident at the same time that the guys will make the tackle. For a guy like Aphiwe (Dyantyi) to make a read like that at the end, it was a special feeling. It means that we are growing as a team.
“No I wasn’t even thinking about it, all that was running through my head was ‘am I working hard enough, am I giving my best at all my times’. That is all that was going through my head at all times. That was what was driven into my head by the coaches as well and what we expect from each other.”
Kolisi said the emotions were there but he still believes the win hasn’t sunk in yet.
“No it hasn’t sunk in yet, we’ve been kinda normal about it, we are obviously excited and some of the guys were obviously emotional after the game but we kept it normal.”
The big challenge would be to replicate this at Loftus, but now that the first blow has been struck, the motivation factor will be the easiest part of it all.