DURBAN - There are some who would argue that Siya Kolisi’s most emphatic performance for the Boks was his debut off the bench against Scotland in Nelspruit in 2013, when he was explosive in replacing injured Arno Botha five minutes into the game.
On Saturday, however, Kolisi shyly admitted that he had topped this display with his Man of the Match performance in Durban.
The day before the match, Kolisi had turned 26, meaning he is still a relative youngster in international loose forward play, but his two tries against the French, his offload for Elton Jantjies’ first Test try, his passionate defence, and his ball-stealing made this a performance that will take some bettering.
“I guess I would personally rate it as my best performance in a Bok jersey (he has 18 caps) but it really is not for me to say,” the flank said with typical humility after his team’s 37-15 win.
“I can just say that having watched a number of games last year (because of injury) and seeing the pain of the players, I am very pleased to have made a contribution in this match.”
A smiling Kolisi said that this Test match had reinforced why he loves rugby.
“I just love the game and I’m forever reminded how lucky I am to play for my country when there are so many players out there who would love the privilege,” Kolisi said.
“Even in our squad, guys like Jaco Kriel have not had a chance (injured) and then you see a youngster like Jean-Luc du Preez come on and play a huge game (for Oupa Mojoje, concussed early in the game).
“There are so many people who want to play for the Boks, so I don’t care where I fit into the loose trio (he can play 6,7 or 8),” he added.
Interestingly, while he spends many hours working on ball-handling skills after practices, Kolisi’s chief focus has been on improving his defence.
The Boks were certainly impressive in this regard in the second half against the French, and Kolisi was right up there in the tackling stakes.
“I have wanted to contribute more than ever in this department because it shows your teammates what the jersey means to you,” Kolisi said.
“We are getting to get to know each well after last season. We have started something new. The way you defend shows how you care when the going gets tough.”