World Cup hero Cheslin Kolbe is excited to face Wales on Saturday, as part of a new-look Springbok back three that includes rising star Canan Moodie.
Kolbe starts on the left wing in an experienced Bok 23 for the World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff, where the speedster will form an exciting trio with veteran fullback Willie le Roux and right wing Moodie.
A 2019 World Cup winner, Kolbe’s bravery and determination under the high ball helps make him a crucial attacking weapon to the Boks’ gameplan, yet the 20-year-old Moodie has emerged as a similarly assured threat in the air as well as in open play.
Moodie and Vodacom Bulls teammate Kurt-Lee Arendse, who continues to impress with his remarkable Test try-scoring record, are two of 10 players in a 33-man contingent set to make their first appearance at the World Cup.
With veteran flyer Makazole Mapimpi also on the plane to France, head coach Jacques Nienaber has a welcome selection headache in the wide channels, and Kolbe is relishing the competition.
Speaking in a Bok conference in the lead-up to the clash with Wales this weekend, the 29-year-old told reporters: “I’m obviously delighted for the wings that have been selected and for everybody to hopefully get an opportunity.
“We have got much more depth in the squad than 2019. It is actually scary. If someone gets injured, we know the next guy coming in will fill that role and is capable of doing even better.
“The nice thing about this team is that no one is bigger than the next person and whoever gets the opportunity to play, we encourage that person to give him confidence and make sure he is well-prepared.”
He added: “I think we have given more opportunities to squad members this year than the other teams. It is a big bonus that we organised more warm-up games than we did in 2019.
“That has benefited the individuals because we have had game time, and the team as a whole is much better off because the coaches have tested combinations.
“There is a real buzz in the squad with the World Cup just a few weeks away now, and there is a big desire to get our game right against Wales.
“Yes, the World Cup is getting closer, but we are not looking further than what is in front of our noses.
“There are a lot of things we need to improve on, and if we get it right against Wales and next week [against the All Blacks], then we will be where we need to be for Scotland.”
Kolbe also expected the Boks to be tested thoroughly on Saturday by the Welsh Dragons: “They’ve brought back a few experienced guys, so they have a nice balance of youth and experience. It is a good team with guys who can run the show, but the important thing for us will be to focus on what we have to do.”
👏 “Incredibly proud for what he’s achieved and the talent he has as a youngster!”
So much respect from Cheslin Kolbe for Canan Moodie, with the two lining up on the wings this weekend against Wales 🤝 pic.twitter.com/aEuMXEWJvL
— SuperSport Rugby (@SSRugby) August 17, 2023
Photo: EPA/KIim Ludbrook