RUGBY WAGS BACK THEIR BOKS

The men who hold in their hands the coun­try’s hope for the rugby World Cup will be sup­ported, as al­ways, by their wives and girl­friends

CityPress - - Front Page - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN bi­enne.huis­man@city­press.co.za

Spring­bok flank Siya Kolisi is known for his ex­cel­lent han­dling skills on the field, so it’s no sur­prise the burly rugby star is equally at home in his son Nic’s nurs­ery, chang­ing nap­pies. But for the next eight weeks Kolisi’s girl­friend, Rachel Smith, will have to change nap­pies her­self while he steps out in the green and gold at the 2015 rugby World Cup tour­na­ment in Eng­land.

On Fri­day, Kolisi hosted his son’s first birth­day party un­der sunny skies at their home in Pinelands, Cape Town, be­fore join­ing the Bok squad for a fi­nal week of train­ing in Joburg to­day. Af­ter weath­er­ing a po­lit­i­cal storm this week, the team will de­part for Lon­don on Septem­ber 11.

Smith and Nic are plan­ning to visit Kolisi in the UK, where they will cheer in the stands along­side other Spring­bok Wags, in­clud­ing Kuziva, the wife of loose head Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.

Kuziva and their tod­dlers, Talumba (4) and Wangu (2), will stay in Lon­don for about a month.

“It will be fun but quite hec­tic with two kids in a for­eign land,” she tells City Press, laugh­ing.

Be­fore Mtawarira leaves on Sun­day, Kuziva plans to make his favourite power dish, chut­ney chicken with loads of veg­eta­bles.

“I help him to eat well. Some­times I make meals for him way in ad­vance,” she says.

It’s not al­ways easy be­ing the un­seen sup­port be­hind some of the coun­try’s big­gest sport­ing stars.

Smith said it had been dif­fi­cult – and her plans to re­sume work in mar­ket­ing had to be put on hold – while they waited to hear whether Kolisi had made the team.

“It’s very tough for all the women be­hind the Spring­boks. It is stress­ful, wait­ing and won­der­ing to see whether they’re picked. You have to be strong and calm for your part­ner; you have to be the back­bone.”

Kolisi has had a tough year, with in­juries break­ing his stride. He has cred­ited his sta­ble home life for keep­ing him grounded.

“Last year was a ter­ri­ble sea­son and I was ex­pect­ing also. It was tough,” re­calls Smith.

Kolisi’s for­ma­tive years were no pic­nic ei­ther. He learnt to drive only two years ago, when Audi chose him as their brand am­bas­sador – and paid for him to get his driver’s li­cence.

The cou­ple fell in love af­ter meet­ing at a friend’s din­ner party in Stel­len­bosch.

“I’ve al­ways been a tomboy and I’ve al­ways gone to rugby games, but never re­ally watched him specif­i­cally, you know,” says Smith. “Af­ter meet­ing that night – I was a bit starstruck – we be­came re­ally good friends and then we fell in love.” On Fri­day, Nic – his full name is Ni­cholas Siyamthand­a – ate pop­corn and cake in their gar­den. They dec­o­rated it in white and blue, in keep­ing with the Storm­ers, whom Kolisi rep­re­sents.

Dur­ing a pho­to­shoot with City Press, the man known for his bru­tal tack­les on the field wrapped his large hands gen­tly around his son.

“Eight weeks is a ter­ri­bly long time. We’ll miss Siya a lot,” Smith said.

“I can’t wait to go over there [to Lon­don]. It will be my first time abroad, too. It has been nervewrack­ing – but such an ex­cit­ing time.”

Other Spring­bok wives and girl­friends ex­pected to travel to Lon­don in­clude Schalk Burger’s wife of three and a half years, Michele, who is the mother of his two sons, and Pat Lam­bie’s wife of 20 months, Kate.

It is not clear, how­ever, whether Lam­bie will take his lucky un­der­pants to the UK.

Kate has ad­mit­ted that her sweet­heart is slightly su­per­sti­tious, gig­gling over his “lucky jocks” habit in past in­ter­views.

PHOTO: NASIEF MANIE

Siya Kolisi and his part­ner, Rachel Smith, with their son Nic

PHOTO: GALLO PHOTO: GETTY

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira with his bride, Kuziva Makure; and Schalk Burger with his wife, Michele

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