Springbok captain Siya Kolisi focused on England, not making history
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Last Updated: 08/06/18 6:10pm
Siya Kolisi is focused on beating England and not about making history as the first black player to captain South Africa.
Kolisi's rise from the Zwide township of Port Elizabeth has been well documented as he becomes South Africa's 61st Test captain, but he is adamant that he will not let the occasion get to him.
"It is not about being the first black Springbok captain, it is all about being the Springbok captain - I think that is where people don't understand, it is huge," Kolisi told Sky Sports News.
"The coach [Rassie Erasmus] has made it really easy on me and has not put any pressure on me.
"I have not had a spotlight on me like this in my life, but I am a calm person - if you read a lot about how big this is that is when you put pressure on yourself.
"At the end of the day the main aim is to make sure that I perform well on Saturday. I have just been focusing on the game - for me it is about us playing well against England on Saturday.
"When all the three games are done, then I will sit down and appreciate the moment."
Kolisi remembers his first cap for South Africa when he came on against Scotland in 2013 to help the Boks turn around an 11-point deficit and win 30 -17 in Nelspruit.
He has never forgotten the nervousness he felt running onto the field and has some sound advice for S'bu Nkosi, Aphiwe Dyantyi and RG Snyman, who will be making their debuts on Saturday.
"I said to the new players that we all get picked because we have something special; something unique in us - you tend to hide it and remain in your shell when you make the Springboks because you are so nervous.
"You have to realise you are here because of what has made you unique and different to everyone else - you must let it out!"
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South Africa had their worst season ever under former coach Allister Coetzee in 2016, then lurched through more embarrassing defeats in 2017.
Former Springboks loose forward Rassie Erasmus took over as coach and director of rugby this year, charged with repairing the Boks' badly damaged reputation.
However, his first game in charge saw a second-string side go down 22-20 to Wales in Washington last week.
Kolisi is determined to help Erasmus turn things around and is looking forward to taking on England at Ellis Park.
"We love playing here - it is my favourite ground to play for the Springboks," added Kolisi.
"I am really looking forward to it. It has been difficult years for South African rugby and it is on our shoulders to get it back up there. I think there are 17 games left before the World Cup and we want to build. We want to make sure that everything we do is making us go forward."