South Africa captain Siya Kolisi is braced for an even greater threat from Ireland after admitting his last Dublin Test match was among the toughest days of his international career.
The Springboks have not faced the Irish since suffering a humiliating 38-3 thrashing at the Aviva Stadium five years ago.
Flanker Kolisi is among 10 South Africans who played that day and have a chance for retribution during Saturday evening’s sold-out Autumn Nations Series opener.
The World Cup winner says painful memories of 2017 still linger and believes the hosts are now a “much better” team after making huge strides under Andy Farrell to become rugby’s top-ranked side.
“Of course we have touched on the last time we played against Ireland but this is a whole new team,” said Kolisi.
“For us it’s something that we can’t forget. I remember we were here and it was very tough. It was one of the toughest days for most of us in the Springbok jersey.
“But it’s a different team, a lot of guys weren’t there that game and they (Ireland) have evolved as a team, they’re much better than they were that time.
— Springboks (@Springboks) November 4, 2022
“We want to build on what we’ve done this year. The biggest thing for us – we’re third in the world right now – is we want to give our best against the number one.”
Kolisi guided South Africa to World Cup glory two years after the chastening defeat in the Irish capital.
This weekend’s overdue meeting between the two countries will be the first of two in 11 months as they have been drawn together at the 2023 World Cup in France.
Kolisi does expect the outcome to have a major bearing on next September’s crunch Pool B clash in Paris.
“For us it’s more about momentum and the coaches have plans on what players they want to see,” said the 31-year-old.
“I think it’s more open; World cups are different, it’s different when you get there.
“But it’s important for us as a group to see where we are against the number one team in the world.
“It might make an impact, whoever wins might go one up on the other team, but World Cups are completely different things when you get there.”