PRETORIA – “Coach Rassie is not a politician and I’m also not a politician. I’m a rugby player and all I want to do is to do well and play well and inspire not only black people but all of South Africa. I’m not only representing one group, it is everybody.”
Those were the words of Siya Kolisi yesterday in his first media address after his historic appointment as the first black Springbok captain.
Kolisi, 26, acknowledged the faith that Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has in him.
He received messages of support from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who said: “The appointment of Siya Kolisi to lead the Springbok rugby team against England is a wonderful achievement that makes us walk very tall.
“It speaks to the hope we felt 24 years ago that we were developing a special society in which the cream would rise to the top regardless of colour or class. Dankie, ou Rassie, vir 'n baie wyse keuse. A rousing victory over the English in June will be icing on the cake. Mayibuye iAfrica!”
Kolisi said there was no reason to doubt why he was chosen to lead the Boks against England next month.
“I’ve known him (Erasmus) since I was 18 years old and he is straightforward with me. He has had a sit-down with me and spoke to me, and that is how it is like with all the players.
“He has told me exactly why he has appointed me and I am happy with that,” Kolisi said.
With incidents of racism having constantly clouded rugby in SA, Kolisi revealed how Erasmus has shown the Bok squad who they represent.
“He showed us a picture on Saturday, when we were playing from the back, and what you see in front of you is every single race and that is exactly who we are representing.
“I can’t stand here and say that I am representing this one group, I am representing the whole of South Africa,” said Kolisi.
“That is why we have the South African flag on our chest and our jersey.”
Kolisi said his family were “chuffed” with his appointment.