Giving up already? Springboks captain says goal is 'to do their best' against All Blacks

Their coach's job may be on the line this weekend but do the Springboks have the self belief to win? That's the question after more perplexing remarks out of their camp today.

Days after coach Rassie Erasmus suggested his job was at risk and he would be happy with a "close loss”, today his captain Siya Kolisi agreed.

"He's being honest. He just wants us to give our best no matter the consequences," Kolisi told media today.

"As long as we can walk off the field and look each other in the eye and say, 'we gave it our best shot', – that's what he wants for us.

"Sometimes you don't get the results. You can have the best game ever and sometimes things don't go your way."

Off the back of two straight losses, the All Blacks aren't expecting a Wellington walkover. Source: 1 NEWS

The Springboks are entering tomorrow's Rugby Championship match on the heels of back-to-back away losses to Argentina and the Wallabies.

Kolisi says they've learned from those losses and are ready to move forward.

"We’ve got a good game plan and we're excited to give it our best shot.

"It’s not going to be easy but we’re really excited."

Tomorrow’s Test at Westpac Stadium, which kicks off at 7:30pm, will be the All Blacks' last home game of 2018.

Siya Kolisi backed up his coach’s comment that he’d be happy with a “close loss”. Source: 1 NEWS


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All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams confirms return to boxing ring in December

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams has confirmed he will step back into the boxing ring at the end of the year.

Williams, 33, is set to fight in Sydney on December 1 on a charity event named "Banger in the Hanger".

"I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring again. I know this will be a hard fight for me after being out of the ring for three years," he said.

"Some people will say I'll be rusty. But I can't wait! I know I'll put on a good show and the cause is a great one. It feels good to be giving something back."

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has supported the cross-code star's ambition to return to the ring. 

"Look, from my understanding I think it's a very, very low-key fight and it's about raising money for the homeless in Sydney and for the Auckland City Mission," said Hansen.

"He is pretty confident, I've spoken to Khoder (Nasser, Williams' agent) and Khoder's confident that what's going to take place won't be of hindrance to him, so you've got to back their judgement and from what I understand it shouldn't be too much of a task."

All proceeds from the fight will be split between Auckland City Mission and Australian charities the Exodus Foundation and the Bill Crews Charitable Trust.

The All Blacks star will return to the ring later this year. Source: 1 NEWS

"The winner of the fight will be known as the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE HOMELESS & NEEDY as proceeds of the night will go to helping the homeless in Australia and New Zealand," a press release stated today.

Sonny Bill Williams against Chauncy Welliver in Sydney Source: Photosport


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'We have to capitalise on opportunities' - Springboks look for World Cup hope in All Blacks Test

The chaos that occasionally appears at the heart of South African rugby has been evident in the Springboks' preparation for Saturday's Rugby Championship test against New Zealand.

Bold predictions, dire warnings, mixed messages and the collision of short term and long term goals have combined to complicate South Africa's preparation for a match they are already given little chance of winning.

A warning from head coach Rassie Erasmus that his job may be on the line if the Springboks lose tomorrow night has been characterised as an attempt to motivate his players in the hope of avoiding a third-straight loss.

As South Africa's Director of Rugby, Erasmus has a say in the hiring and firing of any Springbok coach and there is no movement among South African rugby bosses to remove him from either role.

Erasmus said history shows his recently-signed six-year contract can quickly be terminated if Springboks fans lose confidence in him.

But the message that Erasmus's future may hang on the outcome of a single match is contradicted by his assertion that the Springboks' coaching staff are focused on the long term — on winning the next two World Cups — and not on the result of a single test.

The messages are not entirely discordant: the best way for Erasmus to demonstrate he has a plan to win a World Cup in 12 months would be to beat the world's No. 1 team tomorrow.

Having the capacity to do so is essential to achieving the kind of long-term success Erasmus espouses.

But the Springboks' performance against the Wallabies was so lacking in direction, particularly in attack, there was no indication they have the ability to become World Cup contenders, a year out from the tournament.

The Springboks obeyed first principles and tried to dominate Australia up front but a shaky scrum and poorly-functioning lineout made that impossible.

The return of Malcolm Marx at hooker on Saturday should improve the lineout.

Without scrum and lineout solidity, there was no platform for the Springboks to attack from set piece and they showed no aptitude for counter-attack, lacking communication on the field.

There seems no single step the Springboks can adopt Saturday to turn around that performance, though they have shown in the past an ability to achieve improvement in a short time.

Last year they lost 57-0 to the All Blacks in Auckland, but by a single point in Cape Town three weeks later.

South Africa's best hope seems to lie in matching the All Blacks' physically and minimizing the errors which contributed to their defeat last week, though Erasmus believes the Boks can compete in the open field.

"I don't think it will be physicality in this game. The way the All Blacks are playing, there is so much finesse in their game, they are so good at taking small opportunities," he said.

"We currently are creating opportunities and just throwing them out the window every single time.

"I think obviously both teams will have to compete physically because that's New Zealand and South African rugby but - we have to capitalise on opportunities like New Zealand do if we are to be successful."

Erasmus said Saturday's selection and performance will serve a long-term purpose.

"We're trying to mix and match a little bit to see who we can take to the World Cup and who can handle the pressure in different situations," Erasmus said. "It's not just Elton and Handre.

"After six matches I'm finding out about players in different situations. I think this team is the closest to the strongest 23 that we've put out for the seven tests we've played."

Makazole Mapimpi celebrates a try with Aphiwe Dyantyi and Eben Etzebeth of South Africa of South Africa  during the 2018 The Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Kings Park Stadium, Durban on 18 August 2018 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix / www.photosport.nz
Springboks winger Makazole Mapimpi celebrates a try with Aphiwe Dyantyi and Eben Etzebeth of South Africa against Argentina. Source: Photosport


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'Thinking of ways to keep this big machine going' - Steve Hansen looking for ways to keep talent in NZ

New Zealand are as fragile off the field as they are dominant on it.

That's the grim assessment of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has renewed a call for New Zealand government support if his all-conquering team are to maintain their pre-eminent place in world rugby.

Hansen's concerns about the financial strain on the Kiwi game came in the same week World Rugby vice-chairman Augustin Pichot warned the international scene is in danger of disintegrating if a unified global calendar can't be nailed down within 12 months.

Pichot said rugby's business model doesn't add up for most countries.

He has threatened to walk away rather than "be an accomplice to rugby's ruin".

Despite its success at all levels, New Zealand Rugby is losing money and struggling to retain all of its leading players who are being courted by large offshore clubs.

Hansen says finding a financial solution is imperative.

"The word complacency's been bandied around about us as a team but we're fighting it all the time with our fans and our country," Hansen said.

The All Blacks coach said he is trying to implement ways of keeping top Kiwi talent in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not an everlasting thing that we're doing. I'm sure there would be a different attitude if this team wasn't performing."

Former All Black Lima Sopoaga this week said playing for New Zealand was losing its allure and that players will increasingly accept overseas deals, such as he has with English club Wasps.

Hansen hoped New Zealand Rugby's commitment to protecting player welfare can help prevent the current trickle of departures turning into a torrent.

"I don't think there's any more going than there has been and there's a lot of guys over there who think it's a grind," Hansen said.

"But we have to keep thinking of ways to keep this big machine going."

Hansen's previous plea for government support of the country's richest sport organisation was greeted with widespread negativity.

He pointed out central funding could be a means to boost the grass roots game, freeing up more sponsorship money to retain top players.

That, in turn, would protect an All Blacks brand he believes puts Kiwis on the map.

"Rugby in this country is part of who we are and what we are.

"You can go anywhere in the world and people may not know New Zealand but they've heard of the All Blacks."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
All Blacks v France. Rugby Union. Steinlager Series, 2nd test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 16 June 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Source: Photosport


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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in no joking mood for Pumas Test

Wallabies assistant Stephen Larkham has had his wings clipped by the boss ahead of what is being likened to a family reunion on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Australia will face an Argentina side now headed by former Wallabies forwards coach Mario Ledesma at Cbus Super Stadium.

Ledesma helped transform Australia's scrum in the lead up to the last World Cup before leaving for his homeland on the best of terms with coach Michael Cheika.

Joking when asked of Ledesma's influence earlier this week, Larkham cheekily replied that "he struggled as an assistant coach" and "didn't know what he's going to come up with this weekend".

Tongue firmly in cheek, Larkham also suggested his former colleague would be stealing from the Wallabies play book on the Gold Coast.

Cheika wasn't laughing about it on Thursday though, bristling when asked what he thought of Larkham's banter.

"I'm not that into it, you know what I mean," he said.

"I get it, the joke and everything, but there won't be any joking on Saturday."

Cheika will save the jovial interaction for after the game, knowing his side has a chance to pull back more ground after a morale-boosting defeat of South Africa in Brisbane.

Argentina split a home-and-away series against South Africa to start their campaign before a plucky 46-24 loss to the All Blacks last weekend.

"He's (Ledesma) done an excellent job. I'm biased, he's like family to me, but it won't make a difference on Saturday," Cheika said.

The Wallabies are $1.27 favourites to win with some bookies but, after back-to- back Bledisloe Cup floggings to begin the Rugby Championship, Cheika isn't getting ahead of himself.

"We've copped a fair bit of flak recently so after last weekend we get a lot of people telling you 'it's all good, all good'," he said.

"It ain't all good until you're consistent every single day. It's a laugh (the banter), but laughs for me are after the game."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika during the Wallabies Captain's Run at Eden Park ahead of this weekend's Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship match in Auckland. Friday 14 August 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Source: Photosport


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