VIDEO: Kolisi's emotional 'farewell' message to Nienaber
Two-time World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi finished his post-match media briefing with an emotional tribute to departing coach Jacques Nienaber – the second time in a week that he sang his mentor’s praises.
Nienaber and Kolisi sat side-by-side, with the Webb Ellis Cup on full display between them, addressing the media for the last time as a combination … at least for the foreseeable future.
It was the post-match media debrief, after South Africa edged New Zealand 12-11 in an epic World Cup Final at Stade de France in Paris at the weekend.
For the better part of the media scrum in the bowels of France’s national stadium – the main venue for the 2024 Olympic Games – the focus was on the stars of the Final.
Then, as the media conference started to wind down, Kolisi delivered his animated homage.
Nienaber concluded his Springbok coaching duties and will head to Leinster next – after his four-day trophy tour in South Africa this coming week.
Kolisi’s future is less certain.
Kolisi has three options – continue as captain, carry on only as a player, or retire from the Test arena having made a massive impact on the South African national team.
The 32-year-old flank will join the French club Racing 92.
Kolisi emulated New Zealand legend Richie McCaw by winning back-to-back World Cups as a captain.
He has not formally stated his plans with the national team.
(WATCH as two-time World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi gives an emotional farewell speech to departing coach Jacques Nienaber…)
“The coaching staff have been ridiculous,” Kolisi said of Nienaber and Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus since 2018.
“I have worked with Jacques since I was 17 years old.
“I couldn’t tackle [at the start].
“When him and Rassie [Erasmus] used to come to training it was full contact.
“You had to show that you could do this.
“Since then, how he used to motivate us in games.
“We grew up around him – me and Frans [Malherbe], Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph [du Toit].
“As I said last week, he cared about us as people.
“He asks: ‘Are you going to let your daughter down, your son down?’
“It became far deeper than just a rugby game.
“Jacques, honestly, it’s been a huge honour for me and a huge privilege, and your wife and the kids.
“I appreciate you.
“We love you as a team, not as a coach, but as a person.
“You’ve taken it to another level.
“The way you speak to us – it’s not: ‘Make a big hit, make a tackle’.
“You talk to me as a person, as a father, a husband, as a son
“It goes such a long way so thank you.
“We honour you as a team.
“All the best.
“They will be lucky to have you wherever you go.”
Having lapped up the admiration of his countrymen, the skipper of the green and gold will return to France and begin a three-year contract with Top 14 club Racing 92.
The Racing contract does not forbid Kolisi from playing for the Springboks.
There is no limit on foreign-based players appearing for the Boks.