CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa captain Siya Kolisi says his team have no plans to get involved in any verbal battles with the British & Irish Lions and will not be targeting home-born tourist Duhan van der Merwe, who will be lining up against them in Saturday’s first test.
The Lions selected former junior Springbok Van der Merwe in their line-up for the clash at Cape Town Stadium and Lions coach Warren Gatland said he had warned the winger, chosen for the tour after qualifying through residency to play for Scotland last year, to expect a verbal barrage from his former compatriots.
"We are not that kind of team. We are going about our business, focusing on the game. We won’t be focusing on a single player. We save our energy for the game," insisted Kolisi at a news conference on Friday.
The Bok skipper was picked to play despite only being released from quarantine on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19.
"Obviously it was tough having to isolate but I stayed in tune with all that the team was doing. I was in every meeting online. When I got back to training, I felt good. Fortunately, I had no symptoms," he said.
He said the home side were raring to go despite this being only their second international in some 20 months since winning the World Cup in Japan in November 2019.
“We’ve have had our challenges, but we know most of us we will never get this opportunity again, so we’ll be giving all we can,” he said of the chance to play the Lions, who only tour South Africa every 12 years.
“Our mindset is that we want to win this thing and we will give it everything we can to make sure we get the result.
“We are living at a time of uncertainty at the moment and have to adapt to everything that is happening. I don’t think there is any advantage for either of the teams and I think Saturday’s result will be determined by which team has put together the best plans.
“It is going to come down to who can do it over the 80 minutes and is able to enforce their game,” Kolisi added.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)