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Former Boks captain announces Irish “war”

Former Springboks captain Bobby Skinstad has compared the excitement ahead of South Africa's friendly against Ireland to “an argument with your wife” before explaining why both teams believe they can make a statement in the two-match series.

Ireland, ranked number two in the world, have not beaten the Springboks in South Africa since a memorable 26-20 victory in Cape Town on June 11, 2016. The Boks won the next two Tests in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, but have not beaten their rivals since.

Their most recent meeting will not be forgotten in a hurry. Last September, thousands sang The Cranberries' “Zombie” at the Stade de France as Ireland celebrated a famous five-point victory in the group stages of the Rugby World Cup.

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But in the quarter-finals, the Irish faced the superior All Blacks and were ultimately sent home after Sam Whitelock won possession midway through the final game. South Africa, in turn, went on to win another world championship title.

So the Boks are world champions, but Ireland are the team that beat them. That creates drama.

It's like the build-up to a boxing match, there are so many stories being circulated right now. Fans of both nations are still looking back on the sport's pinnacle while the war of words continues.

“The best thing about a rivalry is that it grows and ebbs and flows depending on the results. South Africa cannot hide from the fact that they have not beaten Ireland since 2016. Ireland cannot hide from the fact that they have never made it past the quarter-finals at a World Cup,” Skinstad said on SENZ breakfast.

“You can't look at them as small. We feel drained because we couldn't beat Ireland. They are a great international team and they struggle to finish in a World Cup. That doesn't make us better or worse, but they are two different things.”

“It's like having an argument with your wife. You want to have a beer with your mates, she wants you to stay at home. They're two different things but we've brought them together and I love it because it creates a great opportunity for different people to have different opinions on a game but that all gets sorted out in the 80 minutes.”

Ireland performed brilliantly during the Six Nations. France received a red card during their opening round clash in the northern hemisphere's illustrious tournament, but the men in green still outclassed their opponents with a headline-grabbing victory.

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The Irish were also on their way to the Grand Slam, but England pulled off an incredible surprise at Twickenham with a drop goal from Marcus Smith. Nevertheless, they managed to win the Six Nations title for another year.

Away from the international stage, Leinster recently lost to the Bulls at Loftus Versfield – the very place where the first Test between Ireland and South Africa will take place. Fans can interpret that result however they want, but the Irish will still be absolutely confident they can make history.

“The last win they got was with 14 men on the field… CJ Stander got a red card and then Ireland really knocked South Africa off their feet,” Skinstad explained.

“Ireland have been to South Africa and beat South Africa. Why shouldn't they believe they can do it again? I think this is a great opportunity for them to do the same.”

“In the same breath, I think South Africa feel hurt by the comments… the lack of acceptance that Ireland are not necessarily ranked behind South Africa in world rugby at the moment and I think they want to prove a point.

“It's going to be a real battle all the way down the line…someone said it's a 'war' when these teams play each other and that's fantastic. That's what you want.”

Rassie Erasmus has named 12 members of last year's World Cup final starting XI in the XV to face Ireland. Damian Willemse, Steven Kitshoff and Duane Vermeulen are the trio who were not named due to either injury or withdrawals.

Faf de Klerk joins Handre Pollard in the half position, while players such as Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and captain Siya Kolisi provide strength and experience in a star-studded forward line.

“He (Rassie) has put together a great team. Ireland have prepared intensively for this and there is great excitement. We had a warm-up game outside against Wales.

“Bringing the boys together has been difficult and challenging given the amount of international exposure they have, but they seem to have a good team on the field and I’m pretty excited.

“I think it will be one of those events where everyone promises firecrackers and then we get a big fireworks display.”