The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

THERE are some who would ar­gue that Siya Kolisi’s most em­phatic per­for­mance for the Boks was his de­but off the bench against Scot­land in Nel­spruit in 2013. Then, he ex­ploded off the bench when re­plac­ing an in­jured Arno Botha five min­utes into the game, but on Satur­day night Kolisi shyly ad­mit­ted that he had topped this dis­play with his Man of the Match per­for­mance in Dur­ban.

The day be­fore the match, Kolisi had turned 26, mean­ing he is still a rel­a­tive young­ster in in­ter­na­tional loose for­ward play, but his two tries against the French, his off­load for El­ton Jan­tjies’ first Test try, his pas­sion­ate de­fence and his ball­steal­ing, made this a per­for­mance that will take some bet­ter­ing.

“I guess I would per­son­ally rate it as my best per­for­mance in a Bok jersey (he has 18 caps) but it re­ally is not for me to say,” the flank said with typ­i­cal hu­mil­ity af­ter his team’s 37-15 win. “I can just say that hav­ing watched a num­ber of games last year (be­cause of in­jury) and see­ing the pain of the play­ers, I am very pleased to have made a con­tri­bu­tion in this match.”

The smil­ing Kolisi said that this Test match had re­in­forced why he loves rugby.

“I just love the game and I am for­ever re­minded how lucky I am to play for my coun­try when there are so many play­ers out there who would love the priv­i­lege,” Kolisi said. “Even in our squad, guys like Jaco Kriel have not had a chance (be­cause of in­jury) and then you see a young­ster like Jean-Luc du Preez come on and play a huge game (for Oupa Mo­joje, con­cussed early in the game).

“There are so many peo­ple who want to play for the Boks, so I don’t care where I fit into the loose trio (he can play six, seven or No 8),” he added.

In­ter­est­ingly, Kolisi said that while he spends many hours work­ing on his ball-han­dling skills af­ter prac­tices, his chief fo­cus this year has been on im­prov­ing his de­fence. The Boks were cer­tainly im­pres­sive in this re­gard in the sec­ond half against the French, and Kolisi was right up there in the tack­ling stakes.

“I have wanted to con­trib­ute more than ever in this depart­ment be­cause it shows your team­mates what the jersey means to you,” Kolisi said. “We are get­ting to get to know each well af­ter last sea­son. We have started some­thing new. The way you de­fend shows how you care when the go­ing gets tough.” –

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