Siya Kolisi: 'When I put on the Springbok jersey, I play for more than just myself'

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Springboks World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi has lifted the lid on his unflinching dedication to the game, and has attributed his laser-sharp focus to helping those less fortunate than himself as his biggest motivation.

Kolisi was responding to a question on world rugby's player of the decade on Dan Carter's show, Kicking It. Kolisi was Carter's second South African guest after Bryan Habana was featured last week, in the show's third episode.

Responding to what the pressure of fame means for someone in his position, Kolisi said: "It is all about how you see yourself. I don't see myself as this superstar, I still see myself as a young boy from the township who is just trying to make everybody else's dreams come true in the township. I play for more than just myself, I play for a whole lot of people. People who struggle with hunger people who could not afford schools fees, who walked to school with no shoes on...I want them to know it's possible, because I've done it. There are a lot of other guys who were in a worse situation than I was, and when I put on that jersey, I think of all those people. When I put on the jersey, when I don't want to play and I don't want to go to training, I just think I know I want to help all those people. If I don't go, then they won't get help. Then I'm cheating them, and I'm taking an opportunity from them," Kolisi said.

The 28-year-old once again underlined the humility that has, alongside his game and leadership, defined his rise to world stardom by highlighting his humble roots being raised by his grandmother. He pointed out that it was in hard conditions of poverty, and the spirit of the community in Zwide township in Port that has seen him to the pinnacle of success.

"I'm grateful to all the people who made an impact in my life, like my grandmother who was with me when I was a little boy. There was no food I could eat some times, but she still kept me positive and she gave me time, love and support. That's all she had, and that's all I needed at the time. If I didn't go through all those struggles I don't think I will be the person that I am today.

"It makes me appreciate and not take things for granted. She got a lot of help from the community. That's why I love my community so much..."

Kolisi also discussed the work he and his wife Rachel have been doing to assist in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the upcoming launch of his foundation, the love the Springboks got from Japanese fans and the unity in the team that lifted the cup last year.

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