South Africa: Springboks happy with progress made at training camp

David Skippers
Siya Kolisi at training Sprinboks 2023 - PA.jpg

The Springboks are currently hard at work at their first training camp of the year and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick and captain Siya Kolisi are happy with the progress made so far.

Fourteen players were invited to the Boks’ first team activity of the year – which is being held in Cape Town from Sunday, February 19 to Friday, March 10 – which forms part of their preparations for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France in September and October.

Huge task awaits at the World Cup

The world champions have a huge task at the global showpiece which will take place after a condensed Rugby Championship during July and warm-up fixtures against Argentina, Wales and New Zealand.

“There were a lot of positives we took from the year-end tour last season, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement, so it’s great to have this opportunity to work with the players on their rugby and conditioning in this early part of the year,” said Stick.

“The break was good for them, and to have this chance to work with them on their rugby and fundamentals will certainly help them going to their franchises and playing play-off rugby.

“Next week we are going to Stellenbosch, and everyone knows how hot it is there, so there are a few surprises for the players.”

Kolisi echoed Stick’s sentiments and also spoke highly of the progress made at the camp.

“It has been great. We had a month off, which was good because some of us played rugby solidly from January to January,” he said.

“It’s been tough, but we’ve been able to recap the year and see if we achieved our goals, and also look at ways to do things better. It has also been a good reminder about what it takes to be here and to remain here. We have one and a half weeks left, so we still have a way to go.

“My focus is now to go back to the Cell C Sharks as an improved player and to try to play my way into the Rugby World Cup squad.”

After watching the opening rounds of the Six Nations, Stick believes that several countries will be amongst the contenders at the World Cup.

“With all the surprises we are seeing in international rugby, we can’t ask for anything more going into a World Cup year,” said Stick.

Meanwhile, Kolisi said the on and off-field sessions have been very beneficial to the Springboks.

“We are growing as a team, and the coaches have set the standard and told us that we cannot do the same things we did in 2019 and expect to win the Rugby World Cup,” said the 31-year-old.

Keen to improve

“We want to improve our discipline and we are working on lowering our body height in the tackle and on our fitness, which are all important aspects as the rules of the game are changing and the game is getting faster, so we have to be prepared for that.”

When asked to comment on recent reports that the Springboks are seeking a potential candidate focused on giving advice and dealing with the match officials during the World Cup, Stick said: “One will have to ask the director of rugby about that. But if we can get someone with us to advise us on those matters and let the coaches concentrate on coaching and the players to do their jobs on the field, it would be positive for the team.”

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