Cheslin Kolbe's father Andrew with posters of his son playing for Western Province. Cheslin, right, in action for the national Sevens side.
Cheslin Kolbe's father Andrew with posters of his son playing for Western Province. Cheslin, right, in action for the national Sevens side.

WATCH: Cheslin has proved them wrong, says proud dad

By SOYISO MALITI Time of article published Sep 8, 2018

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Cape Town - At the age of 12, Cheslin Kolbe was already a sporting attraction in Kraaifontein. But today, rugby fans across the world were set to tune in and watch him represent the Springboks.

Kolbe, 24, was expected to make his Test debut off the bench when the Boks faced the Wallabies in Brisbane.

The fullback-cum-wing, who plays for Toulouse in France, was a surprise call-up last Friday by Bok coach Rassie Erasmus for the national team.

The 1.72m tall, 72kg Kolbe has often been criticised for being too small, despite having starred for the national Sevens side as well in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup for the Stormers and Western Province.

His father Andrew said that, given the criticism his son has endured, his Bok selection was even sweeter.

Andrew, an auto-trader in Parow, was delighted after hearing of Cheslin’s call-up. “What more can I say?” he told Weekend Argus this week. “I’ve been feeling like this since last week when he told me about the call-up.

“I congratulated him and told him that this wasn’t the last of it there is more work to be done.

“It will really kick in when he takes to the field (today), and then I can tell you that his hard work and the family’s support paid off,” he added.

“Everyone is walking up to us to congratulate us. People don’t realise the hard work we put in; they only see the front page of the story. We travelled up to Welkom to support him at Craven Week under-18 in 2011.

“I’ve told him his talent is God-given and he must make use of it. I’ve always believed this day would come, but at times I had my doubts because of all the negativity in the media and on social media, critiquing him and saying he was too small, he was this and that.

“Up to now, he has proved them wrong. And I think he takes it as a challenge. I remember his words: ‘I want to perform at the highest level just to give players with a smaller stature an opportunity to be looked at’.”

Cheslin starred as a track athlete at school. So did his cousin, world 400m and Olympic record-holder Wayde van Niekerk.

“They (Cheslin and Van Niekerk) had a healthy competition in sports, whether it was soccer, athletics or rugby,” Andrew said.

He said it was bitter-sweet for Cheslin when his Craven Week contemporaries went on to play for the Boks while he was overlooked. A dispirited Cheslin even considered trying to qualify to represent France, Andrew added.

He said Cheslin would return home from the Boks’ Australasian tour to his old bedroom, which still has the posters of his childhood rugby heroes on its walls.

The Kolbes’ neighbour Joseph Neer said Cheslin was a friendly and well-mannered teenager, and the former Brackenfell High pupil stayed over at his house while his parents were at work or when he came home early from school.

“He always kicked the ball into our garden. His friends would run away or say ‘it’s Cheslin’s ball’ because he was a nice boy.

“His father played rugby; we used to play together 30 years ago. I’ve congratulated Andrew. He’s very excited. It’s a big thing to play for the Boks,” Neer said.

“After all those years and they don’t notice you, you will be sceptical.

“Cheslin is still a down-to-earth laaitie that I used to know. People always want to take photos of him, and he actually stops to chat with them.”

Weekend Argus

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