CHESLIN KOLBE: Giving everything I have to be part of the 2019 RWCMarch 27, 2019
A few eyebrows were raised when Springbok coach, Rassie Erasmus, called up Cheslin Kolbe for the Australasian leg of last year’s Rugby Championship.
Regarded by many rugby pundits as “too small” for test rugby, it had been a case of “out of mind, out of sight” for the former Western Province and Stormers flyer after he had joined French club Toulouse in 2017.
But, like many times before in his professional career, the now 25-year-old Kolbe proved naysayers wrong and took to Test rugby like a duck to water. He made his debut in Brisbane against Australia replacing Makazole Mapimpi in the 33rd minute and scored his first test try a week later against the All Blacks after intercepting an Anton Lienert-Brown pass in the Boks’ famous 36-34 win in Wellington.
He has now amassed 7 caps and has performed admirably in all of them despite many of his critics still crying for bigger players to be utilized in his place.
The 1.72m, 75kg pocket-rocket told fiekie7.co.za in an interview in August that he was used to facing criticism about his perceived lack of size. “I have been facing critics about my size since I started my senior career. I don’t believe in size and weight but rather in a positive mindset towards the game,” he said at the time.
A regular occurrence on social media have been videos of the former Blitzbok tearing defences to pieces in the French Top 14 for Toulouse where he has become a cult-hero.
It is evident that the fans love him and it seems like Kolbe and his young family have settled down well in the city in the south of France.
“My family (his wife Layla and their 2-year-old daughter Kylah) are well settled in and loving life in Toulouse. I always say to people that to me Toulouse is similar to Cape Town – the only difference is that you don’t have all your family around but the lifestyle and people are fantastic,” Kolbe told fiekie7.co.za earlier this week.
The 2019 European Player of the Year nominee says he loved his introduction to test rugby in 2018.
“Last year was a dream come true for me. Being called up to the Springboks and making my test debut is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I’ve learned so much as a player in the time I’ve been a part of the Boks and I’ll keep on learning. I had the best time with the brothers, it’s really a good team culture and atmosphere. No egos,” says the Kraaifontein – born Kolbe.
He now has his sights set on the Rugby World Cup. “We are blessed with lots of quality outside backs in South Africa and I see that as a positive for all of us, because that keeps us all on our toes and can just improve each and everyone’s game. Definitely giving everything I have to be part of the 2019 RWC in Japan and will just play the best rugby I can.”
Kolbe’s versatility – he is happy to play at fullback or either wing – can count in his favour come RWC selection time. “I’m comfortable and having fun at both wing and fullback. To me it’s a similar job. At fullback you have more time on the ball and have to make clever decisions from the back. So I’m happy to play either of the two as long as I can add great value to the team and that my performance will be to a great benefit for the team,” he concluded.
Headline picture: Sky Sports