Kolisi gets his run­ning start

CityPress - - Sport - ADNAAN MO­HAMED sports@city­press.co.za

Siya Kolisi made his Spring­bok de­but on June 15 2013 the day be­fore his 22nd birth­day, in a match against Scot­land at the Mbombela Sta­dium in Nel­spruit.

He re­placed the in­jured Arno Botha in the fifth minute. The Boks won 30-17 and he was named Man of the Match.

Since then, he has been in and out of the na­tional team, com­ing on as a re­place­ment in 13 test matches.

Last week he fi­nally made his run-on de­but for the Spring­boks in the test against Ire­land at New­lands. South Africa lost 20-26. Kolisi was, how­ever, one of the few who played well.

The Equaliser, as he is called by his team-mates, was born in the town­ship of Zwide in Port El­iz­a­beth in 1991.

He cel­e­brated his 25th birth­day on Thurs­day, Youth Day.

The for­mer Grey High School pupil said he was de­lighted he had fi­nally been given the op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish him­self as a reg­u­lar in the start­ing line-up.

“I’m re­ally chuffed be­cause all the hard work seems to be pay­ing off,” said Kolisi.

“Even though I have played for the Boks be­fore, start­ing in my first test at my home ground at New­lands last week felt, in a strange way, like it was the first time I was play­ing for my coun­try.

“It’s been a good year for me thus far. Things haven’t al­ways gone ac­cord­ing to plan over the past cou­ple of years.

“I played con­sis­tently in the Num­ber 7 jersey for the Storm­ers for most of this sea­son, which has cer­tainly helped a great deal.

“The coaches are now back­ing me to play in that po­si­tion, but I’m will­ing to play any­where,” he said.

“This year, I’ve just been try­ing to fo­cus on the things I do well – car­ry­ing the ball ag­gres­sively and mak­ing big hits.

“How­ever, I al­ways strive to im­prove in all as­pects of my game so that I can make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the team.”

The tal­ented Storm­ers loose for­ward has al­ways been an op­tion in the line-outs, but hasn’t been used in that ca­pac­ity be­fore.

“Yes, it is now ex­pected of me to jump into the line-outs as well, which is re­ally a good thing,” he said.

All of the cur­rent crop of Spring­boks un­der new coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee are still fairly young.

Kolisi be­lieves it has helped him quite a bit to play in the loose trio with ex­pe­ri­enced guys like Duane Ver­meulen and Fran­cois Louw.

“Hav­ing guys like that next to me has given me lots of con­fi­dence.

“My job is to carry the ball up

I played con­sis­tently in the Num­ber 7 jersey for the Storm­ers SIYA KOLISI

strongly as much as pos­si­ble so that the team can get the ball on the front foot,” he ex­plained.

Kolisi has stepped into the shoes of his pre­de­ces­sor, Willem Al­berts, a huge guy who al­ways re­lied on his con­sid­er­able weight and power.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES

FRONT FOOT Siya Kolisi felt as though he was play­ing for his coun­try for the first time when he was given a run-on place in the Spring­boks against Ire­land on Thurs­day

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