EXCLUSIVE: Cheslin Kolbe excited by new Springbok energy

Cheslin Kolbe has confirmed that he is available for the Springboks’ first Test of the year against Wales in London. Photo: BackpagePix

Cheslin Kolbe has confirmed that he is available for the Springboks’ first Test of the year against Wales in London. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 8, 2024


Double World Cup-winning Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe is available to take on Wales at Twickenham in the first Test of a busy international season.

The 30-year-old arrived back in South Africa last Sunday after completing his first rugby season in Japan with Tokyo Sungoliath, and after his side finished third in the Japan Rugby League One competition, he is primed and ready for some international action.

The first Springbok squad of Rassie Erasmus’ second tenure will be announced tonight, and Kolbe’s name is expected to be among the chosen ones for the Wales encounter.

In an exclusive interview with Independent Newspapers yesterday, Kolbe said it’s good to be back home – and he is refreshed and energised for the international season.

“I have been released by my club, so I am available,” the Bok speedster said.

“It’s always great to return to the set-up, so hopefully it happens this weekend. You look forward to coming back and seeing the guys after the World Cup. There will maybe be some new faces too that will bring that energy. It will be great to see everyone six, or seven months after the World Cup.

“On the virtual alignment camp, I managed to meet coach Tony Brown and coach Jerry Flannery. The way they spoke shows how excited they are for the season too, and how big supporters they are of the Boks and South Africa.

“Coach Tony played here, and he didn’t doubt coming here. He worked in Japan and the Japanese players can’t praise him enough for what he has done, and how unbelievable he is as a coach and person off the field.

“We are excited about his plans – we’ve seen some at the alignment camps, so hopefully we see some lekker tries being scored by the backline.”

He said he would’ve loved to win the Japanese competition in his first season, but ending third was not that bad.

Although he had to adjust to life in Japan without his family – who were with him in France for six years – he had other Springboks around him to show him the way.

He said that he is happy he decided to move to Japan after the seed was planted in 2019 already, when he won his first trophy under Erasmus.

“I needed that new challenge, to grow myself further. I am privileged to be able to travel the world through rugby,” Kolbe said.

“The first year at Sungoliath went very well, although we did not win the title. It was a new team with new players who were put together, so hopefully this season will act as a springboard for what is to come next season.

“Nine Boks I think are in Japan, so they also helped to make that transition easier. I live in the same building as Jesse (Kriel), Faf (de Klerk), and a few other South Africans, so there were enough guys to show me around and help me.

“I also consulted with some of them before deciding about the move, and they all did not have a bad word to say about Japan. After my first season, I can confirm this.”

Upon his return to South Africa, Kolbe was greeted by his family at Cape Town International Airport on Sunday. After being away for four months – they had a brief visit earlier this year – he was looking forward to the family time.

His eldest daughter Kylah started Grade 1 this year, while his wife Layla also started a new job in the Cape while looking after Mila Skye and their baby boy Cayden.

They decided that stability close to the extended family would be the best for the little ones and the winger set on the adventure to Japan on his own.

He had his teammates and agency Roc Nation Sports, who he recently extended his contract with, as a support system.

“This opportunity with them is big for me, and their assistance in helping me set myself up for beyond the rugby field. They’ve been instrumental in helping me create those opportunities off the field,” Kolbe said.

“In sports, they have very big names, athletes in basketball, the NFL, and soccer who you can learn from – and I am excited about the next few years with them.”

Kolbe was also unveiled as an ambassador for PRIME hydration yesterday, and joins South Africa’s UFC middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis at the international energy drink brand.

The golf bug also recently sunk its teeth into the Bok speedster, and he’s gone for lessons after concluding a deal with a Japanese golf company that will assist him with his philanthropy work.

He hopes to soon be on the level of Steven Kitshoff and Damian Willemse on the golf course to challenge them.

“I can now see why the guys love playing golf on tour. It allows you to switch off and escape the rush for a few hours.”

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