Kolbe keeping eyes on Lions series prize

Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe says he wants to be a part of next year’s British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Kolbe, one of two try-scorers during last year’s remarkable World Cup final against England in Yokohama, is set to fight for his place in the Springbok squad next year.

The Lions will be visiting South Africa for the first time in 12 years, since the Springboks’ thrilling 2-1 series win in 2009.

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‘I watched in 2009 and ever since I told myself I definitely want to be a part of that,’ Kolbe said during a Top 14 media conference on Monday.

‘Seeing the atmosphere, the way the stadiums were packed, the amount of time [that] is invested when the British & Irish Lions do come over, it’s incredible. It’s a team I want to be a part of and play in those three Tests.’

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The Toulouse back,  who won an Olympic Sevens bronze medal in 2016, had been linked with a return to the Blitzboks for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

However, the coronavirus forced its postponement until 2021, putting it in conflict with the Lions tour and forcing Kolbe to make a decision between the two.

‘It was a difficult one with the Lions being at the same time,’ he admitted. ‘Being a part of the Olympics in 2016 and experiencing that was incredible. Playing against athletes from all over the world and meeting athletes in the Olympic Village are the things you want to be a part of.’

Kolbe was just 14 years old when the Lions last toured South Africa and watched as Morne Steyn slotted a 50-metre penalty in the final minute at Loftus to give the Springboks an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

‘Morne Steyn, playing at Loftus, so he knew the stadium, getting that penalty from past the halfway line,’ Kolbe said.

‘The moment with all the green jerseys standing up and they went crazy for the winning points. That was one of the highlights.

‘Playing against the Lions, because they are made up out of different countries makes it so much more special and playing against the best – that’s who you want to perform against and how you want to see where you are as a player.’

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Photo: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images