CAPE TOWN – Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids says he is satisfied with the form of captain Siya Kolisi ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
Kolisi, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on Wednesday – which is also Youth Day – joined the Bok camp in Bloemfontein after featuring at openside flank for the Sharks in their 34-22 Rainbow Cup SA defeat to the Bulls at Kings Park on Saturday.
The former Stormers captain had a slow start to the new year after he moved from Cape Town to Durban following a frustrating 2020 that saw him recover from a long-term knee injury, while he also had to be in isolation after his wife contracted Covid-19.
He made a fresh start on the east coast, with the Sharks putting him on a conditioning programme that saw him sit out a few matches in the Preparation Cup.
But he eventually made his debut for coach Sean Everitt’s team in late March in a 45-12 win over the Bulls at Kings Park, scoring a try in his 50-minute appearance.
Kolisi has been improving in every game for the Durbanites, although he hasn’t quite recaptured the outstanding form that he displayed in the playoffs at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
He will look to use the Georgia series to be at full tilt ahead of the first British and Irish Lions Test on July 24.
New Bok forwards coach Davids, though, is happy with what he has seen ahead of the opening Test against Georgia on July 2.
“Me and Siya and the rest of the forwards have been in conversations on a lot of fundamentals and a lot of technical stuff in terms of their performances over the past competitions,” Davids said during an press conference from Bloemfontein on Monday.
“I think there’s definitely… Siya coming back and playing for the Sharks over the past few weeks, you can clearly see an improvement and the way he performs with the ball, and especially off the ball.
“Having Siya in today’s session at the camp, it’s just fantastic with him bringing that experience and continue going in his approach in the game. I think Siya is a big, core part of this whole pack of forwards going forward.”
Despite wearing the No 6 jersey, Kolisi’s role at the Sharks has been as a ball-carrier in the wide channels primarily instead of the ‘fetcher’ approach normally associated with that position.
In the Bok set-up, he has dovetailed well with Duane Vermeulen, who does attack the breakdowns for turnovers. So, it will be interesting to see what loose trio head coach Jacques Nienaber goes with against Georgia, as Vermeulen has an ankle injury and is unlikely to be ready.
A specialist fetcher like the Bulls’ Marco van Staden could come into the mix at No 6, with Kolisi possibly moving to No 8.
Other options at the back of the scrum include Kwagga Smith and the uncapped Jasper Wiese, as well as Bulls star Marcell Coetzee.
The Bok squad in Bloemfontein numbered well over 20 on Monday following the arrival of all the other local players from the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions on Sunday, with just the overseas-based players still to come.