Kolisi hopes World Cup success can inspire underachieving Stormers
Like the Springboks had a higher purpose of nation-building that inspired their Rugby World Cup triumph, the Stormers will also have a few off-field factors that Siya Kolisi hopes will finally end their Super Rugby title drought in 2020.
The obvious one is the fact that this is the last season that the Cape franchise will play at Newlands before moving to the grand Cape Town Stadium in 2021.
But perhaps something even closer to home may just be the difference between the Stormers being also-rans and champions.
Kolisi said ahead of the pre-season SuperHero Sunday clash against the Sharks at the FNB Stadium (1pm) this weekend that it was difficult to turn down lucrative offers from cash-flush overseas clubs and stay in Cape Town, with the franchise and provincial union under tremendous financial strain.
The situation has resulted in WP Rugby chief executive Paul Zacks stepping down at the end of January after his health was negatively affected.
So, one could argue that it is a gamble by Kolisi and many of his World Cup-winning Bok teammates not to follow Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende in chasing the big money, but the skipper feels it can be all worth it in the end.
“It was tough, I won’t lie,” Kolisi said about declining an overseas contract. “At the same time, we are all rugby players and you want to look after your family, but for me personally, I believe that there is so much to do here in South African rugby – where I want to add value in playing here.
“And I can’t do the changes in my community if I was elsewhere. I would love to win a title with the Stormers – I’ve been here for nine years, and haven’t won a single thing. And the big games like the British and Irish Lions (in 2021); I want to experience that.
“Some guys had to leave, like Chessie (Cheslin Kolbe), to get an opportunity. But I believe so much in what is happening in South Africa, and hopefully in future, we can have more people staying. I stayed because I know what Dobbo (Stormers coach John Dobson) and Rassie’s plans are, and I am happy with that.
“I hope to do well enough to be picked every week, and I must do the hard yards and hopefully inspire others.”
It has been a hectic last two months for Kolisi since the World Cup victory in Japan, with a number of appearances overseas, while he also watched his beloved Liverpool in the Champions League at Anfield.
He is delighted to be back on the training field, though, and is keen to incorporate some of the lessons from the Springboks to guide the Stormers to a first Super Rugby title.
They begin their quest on February 1 against the Hurricanes at Newlands. “All these games are about mentality. If we go there and say we want to win those tour games, and not say we are choosing which game we want to win…” Kolisi said.
“We need to have the same attitude as (the Boks) had (at the World Cup). I’ve never won a title here, and that’s my drive. The nice thing now is that we are at home for half of the time, and we enjoy each other’s company, which is also why we were successful at the Boks.
“That’s the same drive that Dobbo wants here – that the Stormers are the most important thing, and the people supporting us.”@AshfakMohamed