CAPE TOWN – Few rugby images in 2017 were more iconic than the one that depicted Siya Kolisi celebrating his try-scoring brilliance against France in Durban.
A celebratory fire show provided the perfect backdrop, and his teammates running in and jumping onto the elated scorer sure made the picture even more special.
Yeah, all of that - from Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx celebrating with Kolisi to the fireworks - all of that made it a special image to capture. But there’s no doubt that Kolisi owned it.
You see, that performance by Kolisi and everything he did in that game, everything that led to that stunning picture, was the perfect culmination of a series of great 2017 outings for Kolisi. It was his best performance of his career at any level. And after the game, Kolisi said that it was the best he had ever felt after a game.
Before he scored that try, which came after the French dropped a loose pass in their own 22, Kolisi scooped the ball up, set his sights on the try-line and from there on he just had to sprint. Sprint his way to get the five-pointer that became the highlight of the game. And he also set up a try with a stunning break and top offload.
But that wasn’t all he did.
He was immense at Kings Park on the day that formed part of the resurgence of the Boks (or so we thought). That try was fantastic, but he also made several crucial turnovers and his work on defence was outstanding.
He was always ready to pounce. He was electric. And what made his productions in June last year even better was the fact that in the 12 months before that Kolisi wasn’t guaranteed a spot.
If you look at how he went with the Stormers during Super Rugby before the June break last year, you’d know that the captaincy armband certainly did him well. He flourished in the leadership role with the Stormers, and it showed when he reported for duty with then-coach Allister Coetzee’s Boks.
But 2018 has been a very different year for Kolisi.
He’s been far from the form that last year saw him hailed as “King Kolisi”, “Sizzling Siya” and any other names adorned with admiration that were so often used to describe him.
Perhaps the inconsistent performances of Fleck’s team have influenced Kolisi’s game. Or perhaps it’s just a dip in form, for whatever reason.
And as expected, the Bok captaincy has been an often-debated topic this season, and Kolisi’s form has seen him take some flak with regards to the possibility of him leading the Boks, and even starting against England.
But when Kolisi leads his team against the Sunwolves at the Mong Kok Stadium on Saturday, it will be another chance for him to remind us of his brilliance. It will be another chance for him to silence his critics.
He should use the away game and the Stormers' home fixture against the Lions to show just why he is such a quality player. Add some of that skill, footwork, attacking know-how and powerful defence. He should just add some Kolisi. Some 2017 Kolisi, because he’s shown that he can.