Rugby-Fired-up Wales will want to prove a point, says Bok skipper

Rugby Union - South Africa Press Conference - Pretoria, South Africa - July 1, 2022 South Africa's captain Siya Kolisi during the press conference REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa captain Siya Kolisi says there will be no better way for Wales to bounce back from their shock Six Nations loss to Italy in March than to beat the Springboks in front of 52,000 fans at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

The teams clash in the first of three tests with Wales coming off a disappointing Six Nations campaign that was capped by the dismal home defeat to the Italians.

But Kolisi will not write off the tourists' chances and says the Springboks were in a similar position just a few years before they lifted the 2019 Rugby World Cup when they slipped to number seven in the world rankings.

"We have been there too. We are no ones to be laughing at anyone," Kolisi told reporters on Friday. "I played in a team that lost against Japan for the first time and we also lost against Italy. We have been there and know what it feels like.

"They are in a tough situation, but that can bring a side together. What better way to get out of a hole than to beat the number one team in the world?"

Kolisi said they expect a fired-up and physical Wales, with the Boks edging the last two meetings, including the World Cup semi-final three years ago that was won 19-16.

"They (Wales) don’t stop for 80 minutes, we know that as a team," he said. "They will stand up to us physically. When you have the opportunities, you have to take them.

"In the World Cup semi-final it went down to the wire and we have a similar game-plan. The set-piece will be important. They are going to kick high balls and it is going to be all about who can pick up the scraps. They are not going to be scared.

"We respect them a lot, we have prepared as hard as we can this week. We have to pitch up with the right attitude.

"How we start the game is important to us. We need to start with intensity. If they score we need to just keep coming back."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

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