The 32-year-old loose forward is now playing for Racing 92 in Paris, and despite battling with the cold northern winter and French language, he still aims to make his presence felt on the pitch.
Kolisi is now an icon off it too, and during an video interview with former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton aired on the RugbyPass website this week, he spoke about how he spent time with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Bill Gates and Jurgen Klopp in recent years.
But the former Stormers and Sharks flank, who earned his 83rd Test cap in the 12-11 World Cup final triumph over the All Blacks in October, wants to continue playing international rugby – with the first Bok Test of 2024 against Ireland at Loftus Versfeld on July 6 – despite being in such demand outside of the rugby pitch as well.
However, he also gave an insight into the kinds of projects he aims to tackle after his career ends.
“It’s all about how good I’m playing – that’s it. Right now, all I’m thinking about is playing well here at Racing, and hopefully winning a title,” Kolisi told Hamilton.
“And hopefully putting on that Springbok jersey again. That’s it: that’s all that’s in my head right now.
“I want to work for my foundation – that’s what I want to do. I want to do speaking … I want to talk, I want to encourage people. I want to sit with businesses. I love fashion too. I’ve got a brand called Freedom of Movement (FOM) – it’s not my brand, I am part of the brand, and we are going to bring it to the UK.
“But I definitely want to make an impact in people’s lives. I want to help the women’s game, to be honest. I think more men like us as rugby players need to support women’s rugby in the same way that they support us.
“Speaking to sponsors, how do the girls not have their own boots? They are playing at the same level as us, working harder than us – and having to go to work and still play rugby. I don’t believe that’s right.”*
Kolisi was asked about the impact of the 2023 World Cup title, and he explained how the Boks try to provide hope to ordinary South Africans.
He spoke glowingly about Bok boss Rassie Erasmus’ ability to provide perspective to the players in that regard, and how Erasmus had embraced the concept of transformation in the sport and wanting to make the side more representative of the country’s people.
Kolisi added that Erasmus also held him to high standards, and that he didn’t mind when he was taken off early in the second half of matches.
“When guys get subbed – I get subbed at 45 minutes sometimes – I know why: because I’m not as effective as I usually am. Then Kwagga (Smith) will come in, and they win the game. It doesn’t mean I like it, but I’m comfortable enough to know the team is more important. I think that was the difference between us and others (at the World Cup),” he said.
“Some players would get p ***** off when they’re subbed off early. But we’ve had hard conversations as a group. That’s what I really enjoy, when we have honest and serious conversations. You get hurt, but you don’t take it to heart, you move on the next day.”
Kolisi scored his first try for Racing a few weeks ago in a 48-26 Champions Cup win over Cardiff, and explained that life in Paris was growing on him.
“It’s a big difference – two different worlds, coming here. But I am enjoying it.”