Skalla 'immensely proud' of Bok skipper Siya
CAPE TOWN – Former Springbok flank Schalk Burger says Siya Kolisi’s development as a player has been ‘phenomenal’.
During a webinar featuring Burger being interviewed by Historian Dr Dean Allen as part of a fundraiser for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund on Thursday evening, an image of Burger signing an autograph for a young Kolisi, still at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth at the time, was displayed on screen at the start of the session.
That photo went viral in 2019, and it tells a story that’s easy to read – that of Kolisi going from just being one of the fans to sharing a field with Burger and, ultimately, leading the Boks to World Cup glory.
It’s a stunning trajectory any way you look at it, and a climb that Burger says makes him “immensely proud” of the Bok skipper.
“I remember the training very well,’ Burger said.
“That was at Port Elizabeth and we always used to go to Grey PE for a day and we would do one in the township. There aren’t a lot of Test matches in Port Elizabeth, we were still playing at the old Boet Erasmus in those days.
There was this massive signing session afterwards. I was always one to try and stay until last. That photo came up many years later as Siya came to me in the changing room and was like ‘Schalk, this is me’, I couldn’t believe it.
“He obviously came to Cape Town in 2010 from Port Elizabeth. Because we were in the same position, we ended up spending lots of time together. Obviously he was good enough and was always going to play for the Springboks. I think in the finer influences of the game, I spent a lot of time working with Siya.
In those days, he would sit on the bench behind myself, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw. We were the incumbent flanks for quite a few years and Siya would be the super-sub off the bench.
“I am immensely proud. It's not often you see photos like that going around. It is phenomenal to see his development.”
In a series of interviews, Dr Allen will chat with stars of South African rugby each week in support of The Players’ Fund charity.@WynonaLouw