South Africa insist they will be inspired by the spirit of Rassie Erasmus when they clash with England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Springboks director of rugby has appealed against a two-month ban from all rugby activity imposed for his criticism of match officials during the Lions series earlier this year, but he is not permitted to attend the match.
Erasmus appears to have made light of the sanction by posting on social media a photo of him in camouflage, suggesting that he might yet attempt to gain entry to the stadium.
And in another slight on World Rugby’s disciplinary process, he has published a photo of a pint of Guinness with a caption saying “I do however get the feeling the 2 months will not be so bad as feared!!”.
Erasmus is being portrayed as a martyr in South Africa despite the human toll of his verbal attack on referee Nic Berry being revealed in the written judgement of the decision and the Springboks intend using his absence to ignite their challenge against Eddie Jones’ men.
Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said: “Rassie is a very special guy to us. We know how much he cares for us. We know how much he cares for everyone and his spirit will always be there.
“The guy really cares about the Springboks, the Springbok family and everyone back at home. We’re going to miss him, yes. But one thing I guarantee you for sure is that his spirit will always be there. We know that by heart.
“We love him and care for him and we’ve got a lot of respect for him. For us it will probably be more motivation to play even better because we know what the gentleman has done for a lot of us in the team.
“We really care and will play for him for sure. He’s a very special guy.”
Meanwhile, Siya Kolisi is puzzled by the claim made by Jones that he insinuated England’s pack is “weak” following the 2019 World Cup final, which South Africa clinched 32-12.
Jones is using the perceived slight to fire up his team but Kolisi replied: “I’m still trying to figure out when I said all those things.
“I never speak about the other team in that way. I’ve never spoken like that before. I don’t remember saying that.
“We know how we want to play rugby and that’s what we pride ourselves on. We do our research on how they want to play. We want to make sure our plan works against their plan.”