The Bok captain deflected every question about Rassie Erasmus, turning the focus to the team and their game against Italy.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi refused to be drawn into the saga of banned SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, with his focus fully on the match against Italy at the Staio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

Kolisi cut a lonely figure at the Springboks pre-match press conference, with his usual partner in crime, Mzwandile Stick, still to join back with the Boks after coaching the SA A team, while Erasmus was part of last week’s presser, but was unable to join this time after being banned by World Rugby.

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Kolisi was straight away put on the spot at his usual Friday pre-match presser, as he was asked various questions about Erasmus, whether the players supported him, would be playing for him or if it was the team’s biggest character test due to the off-field furore that has engulfed them this week.

However, Kolisi deftly deflected each question, turning the focus to the team and their game against Italy.

“To be honest we have lost two tough games (against Ireland and France), so it’s a big game for us. We don’t want to go three games without a win and we have given Italy the respect that they deserve,” said Kolisi.

“All our focus is on beating Italy, because it has been hard to do as you have seen with their last two games they have played at home. They have shown what they can do and that’s all that we are focused on as a team.

“We will be playing for the Springboks, we will be playing for South Africa and the people back at home, and we will be playing to win the game. That is all that is in our minds right now and that has been the message this whole week.”

Lamentable results

Kolisi lamented the recent run of the Boks, that has seen them fall to agonising defeats of just three points against the world number one ranked Ireland in Dublin and four points against world number two ranked France in Marseille, which is why they desperately want to come away with a win against Italy.

“It’s frustrating for us as a team. We play so well and we lose by such small margins. I thought last week we played well enough to win, but we unfortunately didn’t,” said Kolisi.

“The sport that we are in is all about results and our results unfortunately don’t show our progress. But we know internally that what we want to do as a group and the stuff that we are working on is improving a lot.

“So we want to make sure that we keep improving, but most importantly we really want to win this weekend.”