Cheslin Kolbe responds to Toulon departure rumours
SPOTLIGHT: South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe said he is planning on staying at French club Toulon until his contract ends, despite reports linking him with a move to Japan at the end of the season.
In November, newspaper Midi Olympique claimed the 29-year-old, who can play wing and fullback, would leave his current deal a year early for an unnamed side in the Japan Rugby League One.
“I’m not going to Japan, I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying here,” he told AFP.
“I still have a lot I would love to do and give back to this jersey. I’ll still be here until 2024,” he added.
Joining Kolbe in the French Top 14 next term will be his Springboks captain Siya Kolisi after the flank agreed to join Racing 92.
“It’s a big win for Racing to get him. He’s a phenomenal guy, a phenomenal player,” Kolbe said.
“As a close friend of mine, wherever he goes, I’m happy.
“It’s a pity he didn’t choose to come to Toulon!” he joked.
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Kolbe’s Boks start the defence of their World Cup title in France in September, with the team based at the fleet-footed star’s club training ground on the sunny Cote d’Azur.
Despite losing to Ireland at the weekend, Kolbe tipped the hosts for the Webb Ellis trophy after a run of 14 victories which included victories over New Zealand and South Africa as well as a Six Nations Grand Slam last March.
“They’re definitely favourites going into the World Cup, especially based in France.
“After their performance in the Grand Slam, beating New Zealand and then us at the end of last year they’re going in as favourites.
“We know as South Africans what it takes, the sacrifices,” he added.
Before the tournament, Kolbe’s focus will turn to facing his former side in Toulouse this weekend.
He left the league leaders in September 2021 in a record transfer worth 1.8 million euros ($2.12 million) after winning the Top 14 twice and the Champions Cup.
Toulon are ninth in the Top 14 table after losing eight of their 17 league matches this season.
“I was there for four and a half years, when I got to know the system quite well,” Kolbe said.
“I’m sure a lot has changed.
“Wherever I can have input and make things better for Toulon it will help and make things easier for the team,” he added.