Springbok colleagues laud Siya Kolisi: A kid from Zwide in Port Elizabeth became captain
They may be vying for the same spot in the team but Francois Louw underlined the value of Siya Kolisi to the Springbok cause on the cusp of the captain’s 50th Test.
The moment cannot be any bigger as Kolisi will mark the occasion in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against England in Yokohama.
“Siya’s got a lot of weight on his shoulders in terms of the role as captain‚ with regards to the make-up of our country and our nation – where we’ve come from‚ where we are right now‚” said Louw in his trademark mature‚ assured way.
“It’s a role he’s grasped fully‚” said Louw‚ who is clearly also fully aware of the role he has to play in helping to carve Kolisi’s path.
“I’ll never forget that the first thing he did as captain was encourage those around him to support him and help him lead.
“Being self-aware‚ is a fantastic trait of a leader.
"Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are‚ and make sure you surround yourself with people who are wiser than you in areas‚ and you will succeed.
“Siya is very aware of that‚ and he’s led with great example‚ with great courage. And he rallies the guys up when necessary. He’ll call on specific players to act on certain areas of the game‚ and to take leadership and control there.
“Ultimately‚ he surrounds himself with a mini-leadership group that really makes his job and his role a whole lot easier. But I think most importantly‚ at the end of the day‚ all that matters is that you lead by example in terms of your play‚ and I think he has been playing fantastic rugby.”
When elder statesman Tendai Mtawarira was asked to deliver some sage words on the topic where he was seated in a tranquil part of the Springboks’ Tokyo Bay hotel‚ the optics could not have been more apt.
It wasn’t so much the carefully manicured Japanese garden beyond the entrance that helped paint a picture‚ as the fact that Herschel Jantjies and Lood de Jager were seated next to him.
It was a snapshot of South Africa.
“Siya‚ what he has achieved has been remarkable.
"For a young kid from Zwide township in Port Elizabeth to rise above circumstances and become Springbok captain and lead the way‚ he has just been inspirational to South Africans from all walks of life‚” said Mtawarira.
“We are just all proud of him and obviously we want to make it very special for him on Saturday.”
At the other end of the experience scale spectrum Jantjies offered: “I’ve worked with Siya for a short while and it shows that he is a really inspirational captain.
"Just him being around brings a lot to this squad and what he does affects everyone around him. I think it being his 50th for the Springboks in the final is pretty special‚” said Jantjies.
At the other end of the height scale De Jager reminded he was roughly the same age as Kolisi.
“We started out about the same time with the Boks.
"It is just amazing how he has matured as a player and as a leader.
"It is a great achievement and we are very happy for him to play his 50th Test on Saturday and hopefully we can make it a special one for him‚” said De Jager.