Will Rassie Erasmus have place for Cheslin Kolbe in his Springbok World Cup squad? Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – When Cheslin Kolbe turned a slip to his advantage when Toulouse edged Clermont last weekend, he treated fans to a sight they had seen many times before. Many times since he landed in France, that is.

Which sight is that? The one that forces one to ask, “how’s that even possible?”

Kolbe got the ball on the left wing outside the opposition’s 22 and slipped with two defenders right in front of him. If you want an indication of just how quickly he got back up on his feet, the fact that he did so before the Clermont duo could lay a finger on him said it all.

Right there and then, he confused them with his feet before cutting back right into traffic, exploiting the smallest of gaps, to skip past five tacklers and score. After that game, Scottish international Richie Gray said that Kolbe “can make something out of nothing.” No exaggeration there.

“Cheslin is unbelievable,” Toulouse’s Gray told The Scotsman. “He can make something out of nothing - it’s silly stuff and you can’t believe it’s possible.

“You can’t touch him in training; you just try to tackle his shadow and that is the best you can do!”

Sometimes you really can’t believe Kolbe’s productions are possible... until he does it. And he’s done much more than just prove the “size matters” brigade wrong (by not only showcasing his abilities week in and week out, but also by using those abilities to make bigger players look small).

His 75 kilogram frame has done so consistently, showing that a physique that is modest when it comes to the digits on a scale should never be underrated merely because of those figures.

Up until Toulouse’s European Champions Cup semi-final game against Leinster, Kolbe had led the competition in the defenders beaten category with 45.

That one try in their humdinger of a match against Clermont perfectly showed everything the seven-cap Springbok possesses - agility, speed, ridiculous feet, the ability to read the game and insane reaction time.

Given all of that, why should we even continue to entertain size-related debates?

Cheslin Kolbe in action for French outfit Toulouse. Photo: Reuters/Alan Walter
Cheslin Kolbe in action for French outfit Toulouse. Photo: Reuters/Alan Walter

He has built somewhat of a cult following since settling in southwest France, and what makes his unbelievable performances even better is the fact that he does so consistently. The 2019 European Player of the Year nominee has done more than enough to convince the French that he has got it.

And the few Tests he has played for the Boks since making his debut last year should have done enough to start convincing those who believe otherwise as well.

And now, as South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus continues to work on his World Cup plan, it’s clear that Kolbe is game. He just needs that call.

“We are blessed with lots of quality outside backs in South Africa and I see that as a positive for all of us, because that keeps us all on our toes and can just improve each and everyone’s game,” Kolbe told fiekie7.co.za last month. “I’m definitely giving everything I have to be part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. I’ll just play the best rugby I can.”

Until now, he has certainly done that, and that should be one big box ticked.


IOL Sport

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