Kolisi: The value I will add to the Sharks
SPOTLIGHT: Don’t expect to see Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi in action in South Africa’s Preparation Series – which gets underway this week.
Kolisi, who was unveiled – with much fanfare – as a new Sharks signing last week, will be “eased” into the Durban-based franchise’s fold.
The World Cup-winning Bok skipper revealed that he will be allowed to “build a proper base” from which he can launch the next episode of his career.
Since he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup in Yokohama in November 2019, things have not gone according to plan for Kolisi.
A combination of injuries and COVID-enforced shutdowns have limited his game time and saw his on-field form plummeting.
Many so-called pundits believed it was his sedulous off-field lifestyle that caused his slump in form.
However, Kolisi believes it was because he had no real ‘pre-season base’ that influenced his game.
That is why the Sharks will give him a proper ‘pre-season’ and allow him to regain his strength and fitness.
“I am the type of player that needs to play five games in a row, especially at the beginning of the season,” Kolisi told the media.
“I didn’t get that [in 2020].
“After the World Cup, I didn’t really do a pre-season and was injured in the first [Super Rugby] game. I had no base [to start with].
“I injured my hamstring in the first week of training, then my knee went in the first match [against the Hurricanes in February 2020]. Then the season was stopped [in March]. When we came back [from the COVID-enforced lockdown], I hurt my hamstring against the Pumas and then COVID hit my family.
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“There was never consistency. That played a huge role.
“A lot of people say they think I do a lot of stuff off the field. That stuff I do off the field encourages me to work even harder, because rugby opens all those doors for me. I am not the person that is just going to play.
“There are so many people that look up to me, my family and my community as well.
“It wasn’t just that [off the field stuff]. It was everything – playing and conditioning – I wasn’t up to standard.””
He revealed a sit-down with Sharks coach Sean Everitt will afford him to finally rebuild the base from which he can launch an effective on-field career in Durban.
“That is why I was so grateful when I spoke to coach Sean [Everitt].
“He said: ‘I am not going to push you, or force you to play. We are going to work you as hard as we can, to ensure you as fit as you can be and deliver on the field’,” Kolisi added.
The Sharks started their ‘preparation series’ against Griquas in Durban on Sunday, February 28 and the play their last match of this competition against the Bulls in Durban on Friday, March 26 – meaning the six-week ‘base-building’ period will take him well beyond the end of the domestic venture.
It will certainly leave him in a much better position to challenge for a spot in a Sharks team that is well-stocked with loose forwards.
Apart from two utility forwards – Dylan Richardson (a hooker who often features at openside flank) and Juan Johan van der Mescht (a lock that also featured at blindside flank) – the Sharks can call on Henco Venter, Kolisi’s former Stormers teammate Sikumbuzo Notshe, Thembelani Bholi, James Venter, Mpilo Gumede and Phepsi Buthelezi.
Kolisi spoke about how “change” could be refreshing and the importance of the timing of the move from Cape Town to Durban.
“It is going to be a fight for all of us,” he said of the truckload of quality loose forwards at the Sharks.
“There are some amazing loose forwards here,” adding that what he achieved in the past doesn’t really matter.
“I believe this is the perfect time for the move [to the Sharks]. I am excited to be playing alongside guys like [Sikumbuzo] Notshe and fighting for a place.”
He also said he loves the Sharks’ style of play.
“They move the ball around and have strong carriers.”
Kolisi sees himself as an ‘openside’ flank, but not a ‘fetcher’.
“The [Sharks] team has a lot of fetchers. I do work on my fetching ability, but I believe in my ability with ball in hand and hopefully that is where I can add value.
“I am not scared to do the hard work. I don’t mind not being seen in the game, if it means I have to clean rucks, working back and forth, whatever I am need to do.
“I believe strongly [in my ability] with the ball in hand.”