JOHANNESBURG – A quite emotional Mzwandile Stick, who is back in the Springbok coaching team, has called the appointment of Siya Kolisi as the captain for the England series a long time coming. He has also spoken about the anguish he went through after being dropped from the previous management team by then coach Allister Coetzee.
“It is such a great honour for Siya’s family, and a great thing for the whole of South Africa,” said Stick yesterday, just days before the Boks’ first Test of the year - against Wales in Washington DC on Saturday. “Siya is someone that deserves this opportunity, and that’s irrespective of his colour.
Also, the appointment of Pieter-Steph (du Toit) to lead the team this weekend; neither of them have captained at this level before, but Rassie (Erasmus) trusts them both.
“That’s what life is about; giving people opportunities and believing in them, trusting them. I’m really proud of Siya ... if I was not in the position I’m currently in I would probably be in tears on my couch.”
Kolisi will become South Africa’s first black rugby captain next weekend when he leads the Boks out in the first of three Tests against England. Stick said he’d seen the leader in Kolisi at a young age.
“I remember the days at Stellenbosch when he joined the Western Province rugby institute and I was there with the Sevens team,” recalled Stick, who was the Blitzbokke captain for many years.
“One of the first things I said to him was to make sure he knew he was in Stellenbosch for the rugby. I said a lot of stuff happens here, it’s a student area, so he mustn’t get caught up in that stuff on the streets, otherwise he might lose the opportunities he had in front of him.
“But Siya has got a proper head on his shoulders ... him being named captain has been coming.”
Meanwhile, Stick spoke openly about his axing early last year from Coetzee’s coaching team. He called his being made the scapegoat “a huge punch” to his confidence.
“I’m a very strong character to where I was (then). At that stage in my career ... you’re right, yes, it gave me a huge punch,” said Stick about being dropped from the Bok coaching team.
“You keep asking yourself questions and doubting yourself. But if you know yourself and know where you come from those kind of challenges become a part of you. They are challenges I have had to face.
“But I know my value, and I know what I can contribute to this team. I believe I have what it takes.”