Kolisi relishing being just a Bok captain now
Having yielded to sentiment and historical context as the country’s first black Springbok captain in June‚ Siya Kolisi is now only too pleased to get on with business.
“It feels a bit more relaxed‚ or more rugby focused‚” he said with his trademark grin on Friday.
“That is the important thing. I just want to be measured on my effort. For what I do on the field‚” said Kolisi on the eve of his first game in charge in the Rugby Championship when the Boks play Argentina on Saturday.
Apart from captaining the side‚ Kolisi knows his game‚ which now requires him to shift to blindside flank‚ will come under intense scrutiny. He speaks earnestly about raising his effort and intensity.
“I have been working for five weeks at our camp in Stellenbosch. I feel good‚” he said.
“I had a week off after Super Rugby. I struggled at the start of the season because I didn’t do preseason. It was tough on me and I got an early injury.
“These five weeks I’ve worked really hard and I feel stronger than I did in June.”
Certainly the Boks didn’t lack effort in June but they are going to require composure and develop a ruthless streak if they are going to meet success in the Rugby Championship.
Kolisi understands the challenge is now greater and to rise to it he and his team need an uncluttered mind and to be singular in their focus.
“We want to build on what we started in June. We always want to improve.
“Coach Rassie [Erasmus] has a long-term plan with the Rugby World Cup. We want to win but we want to learn while winning. Not just learn when we are losing‚” said Kolisi.
His job‚ however‚ is made easier in the Championship by the return to the Springbok fold of former captains Warren Whiteley and Eben Etzebeth. Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ who captained the team against Wales in June‚ is also in the mix.
“It does make things easier‚” said Kolisi about having a leadership group.
“We are kind of similar. Especially me and Warren‚ in the way we lead. I think they will take a lot of the responsibility off me as well.”
Asked if the captaincy beyond the Rugby Championship had been a topic of discussion in the Bok camp Kolisi was clear.
“We haven’t spoken about that. Our focus has been the Championship. I just want to be in the side. That is the most important thing for me.”