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Siya Kolisi deserves plaudits but rugby will ignore him

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (12591886dg)Siya Kolisi of South Africa lifts the Prince William Cup.Wales v South Africa Springboks - Autumn Nations Cup - 06 Nov 2021

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix (12591886dg)Siya Kolisi of South Africa lifts the Prince William Cup.Wales v South Africa Springboks - Autumn Nations Cup - 06 Nov 2021

Published Nov 13, 2021

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Cape Town - WALES’ 36-year-old veteran Alun Wyn Jones has been lauded for leading the British & Irish Lions to South Africa in 2021. Australia’s captain Michael Hooper is another who is getting a lot of love in the international media when it comes to who should be world rugby’s player of the year.

Then there’s the All Blacks flanker and Rugby Championship captain Adri Savea.

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Nowhere does Siya Kolisi get a mention.

Kolisi gets plenty of column inches written about his book ‘Rise’. His life story is a popular feature and being the first black Springbok captain always gets him a mention.

Kolisi, the player, doesn’t make it into those select ’top five’ player of the year lists.

ALSO READ: Springboks eye emphatic victory over Scotland with top rankings in sight

There is this obsession overseas with heartache heroes, and Alun Wyn Jones fits that category. So many times, he has been so close, both for Wales and the Lions. His Welsh team has never won the World Cup and the celebrated Lions captain was the bridesmaid to Kolisi and his Springboks in 2021.

Kolisi, the player, is a winner and he should be top of every media list and while he is not, there may be some good news in that for the first time in the awards history, the fans will determine who wins the individual awards, including men’s XV’s player of the year.

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Kolisi on form should be a certainty for the men’s team and hopefully there will be enough insight and acknowledgement from those former players and coaches who make up the panel.

ALSO READ: Siya Kolisi 'proud' of having nine players of colour in Springbok starting XV

Kolisi should be among those nominated by the panel for the fans to make their picks as world player of the year.

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Something tells me he won’t be there and it has everything to do with him finding his voice and using his social media platforms to express his displeasure with being disrespected by Australian referee Nic Berry. Kolisi also unconditionally backed the views of Rassie Erasmus on how the Boks were unfairly targeted by match officials in the first Test.

Erasmus made a 62-minute video, in which he condemned the state of refereeing, took issue with how the Boks were penalised and declared that he and the team would no longer stand for it.

World Rugby charged Erasmus with bringing the game into disrepute but are yet to announce the verdict of his disciplinary hearing.

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Kolisi, in the days that followed between Erasmus’s video going viral and the victorious second and third Tests against the Lions, stood as tall as Erasmus did in taking on World Rugby and the match officials.

Kolisi spoke his truth and then delivered on his promise to lead from the front as a player.

ALSO READ: ’Ox’ Nché fired up for Springboks’ ‘beast’ of a showdown against Scotland

Kolisi, the player, has been colossal, when the Boks have won and when they have lost. He was immense in the 19-17 defeat against the All Blacks and a week later he was as imposing in the 31-29 win against the All Blacks.

Kolisi led the Springboks to a series win against the Lions in the most extraordinary circumstances. The Boks had not played a Test for 20 months before warming up for the series against Georgia.

Kolisi the player was dominant in every Test and Kolisi the leader was even bigger, but I am not promoting the virtues of Kolisi as world player of the year because of his leadership or his inspirational life story; the recognition for Kolisi is exclusive to the way he has played.

Kolisi’s start against Scotland this afternoon will be his 12th successive Test in the past four months.

Pieter-Steph du Toit, in 2021, has not played since injury ended his season in the first Test against the Lions and Duane Vermeulen missed the Lions series through injury. In their absence the consistent performer in the Boks loose-trio has been Kolisi, the captain and for me it has been Kolisi and midfielder Lukhanyo Am as a one-two for performance and playing pedigree. But when asked to choose just one, it has to be Siya Kolisi.

@Mark_Keohane

IOL Sport

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