Former All Black Joe Rokocoko believes Springbok Cheslin Kolbe’s unique all-round qualities make him one of the best wingers in the world at the moment.
Rokocoko, who made 69 Test appearances for New Zealand, currently plies his trade for Racing 92 in the French Top 14, where he faces Kolbe, who plays for Toulouse, on a regular basis.
Speaking to Sport24, the 37-year-old Rokocoko was full of praise for Kolbe as well as Sharks and Springbok flyer Makazole Mapimpi.
‘In top-level rugby, Kolbe would be right up there as the best winger owing to his all-round game. He is so safe under the high ball, is full of confidence and creates something out of nothing. He is a small guy that packs a serious punch and his main attribute is his ability to beat opponents in one-on-one situations,’ Rokocoko said.
‘It was players like him who I used to hate marking during my [international] career. I much preferred a massive guy like Jonah Lomu, who would run over the top of you rather than a player who had twinkle toes. Kolbe’s try in the World Cup final was special and as an opponent those are moments when you just have to stand up and applaud.
‘Pre-lockdown, I saw his game against Racing 92 where Toulouse put him at flyhalf, and he can also operate at fullback. At fullback, he has more of a license to counter-attack and can pick off the forwards coming through the line.
‘At the moment, the roles of fullbacks and wingers are pretty similar and I wouldn’t really care where Kolbe is on the pitch as long as he’s playing. He is a threat everywhere. Off the field, Kolbe is a very humble person and you can tell that he is not faking it,’ he explained.
Mapimpi is renowned for his try-scoring ability, but it’s his defensive capabilities that caught Rokocoko’s eye.
‘In terms of Mapimpi, he has accelerated his game in the last two or so years. He is explosive on attack and, while most wingers aren’t known for their defence, he is a solid bloke that just cuts guys to pieces. He has also become a good reader of when to come off his line and when to hold off.
‘He is still fresh on the international front and with confidence he is only going to grow in the Springbok jersey. Bryan Habana is a good guy both players can model their game on because he was consistent throughout his whole career.’
The former All Black also speaks about his battles with the Springboks, who he faced 15 times, and talks about the greatness of the 2009 Springbok team and more.
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