Bob Skinstad reveals the Springboks’ ‘secret weapon’ that will be key to defeating Ireland

Former South Africa captain Bod Skinstad believes that one player in particular will be crucial if they are to overcome the number one ranked side Ireland this weekend.

The two teams go head-to-head in Pool B on Saturday, with the winner going a long way to securing top spot in the group.

Jacques Nienaber has once again named an incredibly strong side for the clash, with the headline being the 7-1 split on the bench.

They will be led by Siya Kolisi, who recovered from a serious knee injury to make this tournament.

And Kolisi is the individual Skinstad thinks will be absolutely vital for the Springboks. Although he is renowned for his captaincy skills and ability to inspire, the 47-year-old insists that his on-field talents have been underrated.

South Africa’s glue

“South Africa have a secret weapon in Siya Kolisi. He has been absolutely outstanding in terms of net contributions, which sometimes go under the radar because he’s not a flashy player,” the former back-row told the Irish News.

“He carries, tackles, gets over the ball and helps in every aspect of the game – he’s the glue that holds the team together.

“When he’s not there you notice the breakdown is more peaceful but when he’s on the pitch he creates chaos at the ruck and is in trying to pinch the ball and slowing things down.”

Skinstad is also relishing the duel at fly-half as the talented Manie Libbok takes on the experienced Irishman Johnny Sexton.

“The battle of the 10s will be crucial. South Africa have a young, enthusiastic and exciting 10 in Manie Libbok, while Ireland have Sexton who has been in that role for a long time and other guys who can step in to fulfil that game plan,” he said.

“Saturday will be about the big players stepping up to the occasion. The spine of the team – the like of James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Sexton will need to have big games.

“From a South African perspective, the likes of Etzebeth coming back into the team will be significant.”

This match is extra special for Skinstad, who qualified for Ireland through his mother before he decided to commit to the Springboks.

Irish roots

“In another life I could have been playing for Ireland – and I did have conversations about it with my dad – but I was quickly in the snares of South African rugby for the under 19s and 21s before making my debut for South Africa,” he added.

“However, Ireland are a team I have watched and supported for a long, long time.

“The draw means that both sides have a difficult path. You could end up facing each other again en route to the final. We’re both on a journey and both sides are equipped to go the whole way.

“From experience, I know that the best thing to do is go out and enjoy it. In my second World Cup (in 2007) I was that bit older and when you’re older you tend to suck the marrow out of life.

“Not many people get the chance to do something for a living that makes 80,000 people turn up to watch – it’s a massive privilege.

“In a clash like this I have to support my rugby homeland, but I always wish Ireland the very, very best.”

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