'No difference' for Kolisi's Springboks without injured stars
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Paris (AFP) – Captain Siya Kolisi said on Thursday he had no worries about South Africa's chances in next month's Tests even though they are missing three first-choice players.
Loose forward Pieter-Steph Du Toit, scrum-half Faf de Klerk and winger Cheslin Kolbe will miss the games against Wales on November 6, Scotland seven days later and the rerun of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final with England on November 20. All three are injured.
"Those are amazing players but squad depth has been one of our biggest things as a team," Kolisi said.
"People have had a chance to play and work really hard, everyone in the group has played a game, we all train the same, we work together.
"If someone's not playing, there's no difference," the 30-year-old added.
Scrum-half Cobus Reinach scored twice for club Montpellier in Saturday's win at Racing 92 to put his hand up to replace De Klerk with the Stormers' Herschel Jantjies and the Sharks' Grant Williams also in head coach Jacques Nienaber's squad.
"I'm happy I'm not in the coaches' position. We love it as a team when the guys perform," Kolisi said.
"The most important thing is the team, the Springboks, not the number on your back. I love that kind of competition and when the coaches have a headache," he added.
Earlier on Thursday, South Africa cricketer Quintin De Kock apologised for refusing to take the knee in his team's Twenty20 World Cup match this week and said he would be "happy" to do it in future.
"I'm not here to talk about that now. I can't comment, I don't know what's going on inside their camp," Kolisi said.
"All I want to focus on is what's going on in our camp so I can't get involved in that. I don't know the full story, so I'd rather not comment on that," the Springboks' first black skipper added.
This weekend, South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will be the subject of a World Rugby misconduct hearing for criticising referee Nic Berry in an online video after July's first Test defeat to the British and Irish Lions.
'It's been working for us'
Nienaber replaced Erasmus as head coach after the World Cup success in Japan.
"I've known them for a very long time, since school. And I've seen the hard work they've put in, especially for us," Kolisi said.
"Since they joined, the amount of professionalism has increased, we've spent more time watching clips than on the field. And it's been working for us," he added.
Kolisi's side have been in France this week to avoid a Covid-19 quarantine when they arrive in Britain over the weekend.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup's chief executive Claude Atcher said South Africa will play France, the tournament host, next year in Paris.
"The Springboks will come back to France, to face Les Bleus on November 12, 2022 at the Stade de France," Atcher told AFP.
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