Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe says having the right mindset and attitude helped him prove his detractors over his size wrong.
Kolbe was one of the stars of the Springboks’ World Cup campaign, scoring three tries including one in the final against England. He also more than demonstrated his defensive ability, making 28 tackles with a success rate of 88%. His efforts earned him a nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year, which ultimately went to teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit.
At 1.7m tall and weighing less than 80kg, Kolbe has had his fair share of critics who doubted whether he could make it as a Test-level wing. There were even suggestions that he move to scrumhalf to make it with the Springboks.
However, it’s fair to say that after two excellent years (2018-19), Kolbe has proven that size does not matter. Speaking at OR Tambo International Airport after the Springboks arrived home from the World Cup, the 26-year-old said he relishes every opportunity to play against a bigger opponent.
‘This game has a shape and size for each and every player,’ Kolbe said. ‘It doesn’t matter what size you are, how much you weigh. If you have the right attitude, the right heart, then you can achieve much more.
‘I can remember my dad always told me, “Listen, you’re not one of the biggest boys on the field so you’re going to have to put in the extra 1%.” And it’s definitely helped me.
‘To get on to the field playing against a player that weighs 100kg or almost double my weight is an opportunity for me to prove people wrong – to show that it doesn’t matter how big or how small you are there are ways to get around players or tackle players.
‘You just have to believe in yourself and have the right mindset and just give everything you can on that field because you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for someone next to you. And you want to wear the green-and-gold jersey with pride.’
Fans cheer as the Boks return from the press conference. pic.twitter.com/IXTUX0LabG
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 5, 2019
The Springboks’ trophy parade begins in Gauteng on Thursday, 7 November and includes stops in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Soweto. The team will also be touring Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth before concluding in Cape Town on Monday, 11 November.
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