Kolisi building up head of steam
SIYA Kolisi is steadily building his way back to his best form, according to his coach at the Sharks, while the man himself says he is taking nothing for granted regarding Springbok selection for the series against the British & Irish Lions.
Kolisi played 60 minutes for the Sharks against the Stormers in the first Rainbow Cup match and at the weekend played 70 against the Lions and would have played the whole 80, according to coach Sean Everitt, had he not had come off because of the yellow card to prop Thomas du Toit, which required a substitute prop to come on for a flank.
The Springbok captain has been making a comeback after barely playing since the 2019 World Cup final, with six months of lockdown and then a series of injuries while he was still at his former team, the Stormers, sidelining him.
Before the Sharks played the Lions last week, Kolisi said: “Every game I play now counts. If I am honest, I am not yet where I need to be. If my performances aren’t good enough then I know for a fact that I won’t be chosen.”
But after the Sharks had beaten the Lions, Everitt said Kolisi had made positive strides in just his second competitive match since completing a tough conditioning programme at the Shark Tank.
“Siya is adapting very well to our style of play and his contributions to our game are getting better and better,” Everitt said.
“He is training really well, his conditioning has improved really well, and he got through 70 minutes before having to go off for the yellow card.
“We are happy with where he is and he will continue to improve the more he plays,” Everitt added.
Kolisi, meanwhile, is relishing simply playing, and he will be looking forward to the Sharks’ visit to the Bulls on Saturday.
“All my energy is going into making the team again,” he said.
“I’m enjoying what I am doing again and that is the most important thing. Before these recent games for the Sharks, the last genuinely good game I played was the World Cup final.”
Kolisi is a senior Bok who needs as much game time as possible, with time running out before the Lions arrive in about seven weeks time.
More Bok alignment camps are in the pipeline and then the Boks will go into camp some time before the first warm-up Test against Georgia on July 3, the day the British & Irish Lions play the Golden Lions in Johannesburg in their first tour match.
Everitt said that for now he will play his strongest possible team with no thought of rotation. He will use his top players for as long as he can, Kolisi included.
“We have a dozen guys that have been involved in the alignment camps – I think we have the biggest contribution, so it won’t be easy to rest our top players in such a short competition,” he said.
“But any request from SA Rugby we will entertain and honour.”