By Mike Greenaway
DURBAN - The best thing for the Springboks, Sharks and Siya Kolisi himself will be for the World Cup-winning captain to be treated no differently to any other squad member when he reports to Jonsson Kings Park for training.
And knowing the Sharks management as I do, that is how it will be, and Kolisi himself would want it no other way.
Since Eduard Coetzee took over as chief executive of the Sharks two years ago, and Sean Everitt became head coach not long after, the pair have driven team culture as the No 1 priority.
“Fellowship” and “family” are two words that crop up often when either Coetzee or Everitt talk about the culture they are driving — for the team to truly come before anything else, there can be no tall poppies, no prima donnas.
Kolisi, a 29-year-old who is humility personified will assimilate into this culture smoothly and he will relish having to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into relaunching his career.
Kolisi has known only Western Province and the Stormers since finishing school at Grey High in Port Elizabeth 11 years ago, and he would be inhuman if he had not drifted into a comfort zone at times at the Cape union.
Change is an integral part of personal development and while most of us shy away from it, it should be embraced.
Until the Americans entered the South African rugby market last year, and ultimately did a deal with the Sharks, Kolisi probably hadn’t considered playing for another SA team, but MVM Holdings insisted that the massively marketable Kolisi was part of the package.
Just as the Sharks would not have not have been contemplating head-hunting Kolisi, it surely did not enter his consciousness that he would one day, out of the blue (and white), be relocating to Durban.
❤️🙏![CDATA]>🏾![CDATA]>🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/sRpDhSsxMP— Siya Kolisi (@SiyaKolisi_Bear) February 15, 2021
But something of a shotgun wedding between the Sharks and Kolisi has transpired, and both parties can live happily ever after if they give it 110% commitment.
And they will. One of the “givens” at the Sharks under Coetzee is that any new signing is treated “unbelievably well,” as Coetzee puts it, so Kolisi will be given every rugby tool imaginable to get back to his best — injuries have meant he has played just two full games of rugby since the 2019 World Cup final, and his form is understandably patchy.
He will also not be burdened with the captaincy so that he can concentrate simply on his game.
And from Kolisi’s side, he will rediscover that primal hunger that got him to the very pinnacle of world rugby ... he will dig deep and scrap it out with other Sharks loose forwards for a place in the team.
Kolisi is already a world rugby great and I believe his move to the Sharks — where he will be given no short cuts because of his reputation — will propel his career into another dimension and could ultimately add to his legend.