Ahead of Cheslin Kolbe’s first run-on start for the Springboks, CRAIG LEWIS looks at some crucial pieces of play that will embolden him for the battle against Australia.
Kolbe could only offer a wry smile when asked about his defensive game at a press conference in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
‘I get this question a lot!’ the diminutive utility back acknowledged, before going on to describe how much he actually enjoyed the challenge of punching above his weight.
Kolbe’s selection to start on the right wing this Saturday comes after a particularly gutsy performance off the bench in the Boks’ famous win over the All Blacks in Wellington a couple of weeks ago.
Here we look at some of the moments that would have certainly caused the Bok coaching staff to have full confidence in handing Kolbe his first Test start.
One of the 24-year-old’s most defining acts came in the latter stages of the memorable Test in Wellington. Earlier on, towering All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane had handed Kolbe off to go over for an important try.
Yet, with the Boks playing with a man in the sin bin during the dramatic final period, Kolbe stood up to complete a powerful one-on-one try-saving tackle to have his revenge on Ioane, as seen below.
In the next clip below, Kolbe completes some superb cover defence. Tracking across from in front of the poles, Kolbe spots Damian McKenzie on the break, but buys time with some astute defence before Warren Whiteley is able to get across to complete a double hit on the All Blacks replacement.
In the next play, we look at Kolbe’s vital intercept try just after half-time. Although at first glance it may just be seen as a piece of opportunism, the reverse angle actually shows how the Springbok makes a top decision to read the play.
With Anton Lienert-Brown launching an attack, Kolbe tracks sideways before making a brilliant read to commit at the perfect moment to snap up possession and dart away to score.
Kolbe’s work rate and gumption on defence are again illustrated in the clip below. Ioane manages to brush off an attempted tackle from Handré Pollard, but Kolbe can then be seen coming flying across to bring Ioane to the ground as he continues to make a nuisance of himself on defence.
In the next video below, we actually see Kolbe using his size to his advantage in the buildup to a crucial try for the Boks.
With Willie le Roux taking the ball into contact after receiving an exit kick, Kolbe can actually be seen burrowing his way over the ball with textbook body position to ensure quick ball can be recycled for Faf de Klerk.
In the last clip, we come to Kolbe’s final and all-important piece of play. With the All Blacks searching for a match-winning try, the ball is sent wide, but again Kolbe stands up defensively to help wrestle Ryan Crotty to the ground along with the help of a couple of teammates.
It’s these clips that provide insight into the fact that Kolbe does not only offer X-factor on attack, but has the ability to make some other vital contributions that often go unacknowledged.
Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images