Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi has singled out Lukhanyo Am and Willie le Roux for their respective roles in Cheslin Kolbe’s game-changing try against the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.
South Africa clinched another famous 2-1 Lions series win and 12 years after doing so the first time, Morne Steyn was again the man to land the final blow via his accurate boot to give the Boks a riveting 19-16 victory at Cape Town Stadium.
Prior to that though and with the series hanging in the balance as the Springboks trailed 10-6 in the second half of the third and deciding Test, Kolbe – who had been kept relatively quiet throughout the series – stepped up and produced a moment of magic to put the hosts in the ascendancy.
Receiving the ball on the wing, Kolbe beat two Lions players – Liam Williams and Luke Cowan-Dickie – one with a vicious step and the other with a lethal hand-off, to score. But the move originated from Am, who pounced on a loose ball after Maro Itoje failed to secure possession and Le Roux, who released Kolbe with an accurate final pass.
Commenting on the effort of the backline trio, Kolisi said: “Cheslin is one of those players who don’t need a lot of opportunities. He makes sure that he uses the chances he gets and today was one of those days. We’re really proud of him for everything that he’s achieved.
“But you got to give it to the guys who won the scrap (to get the ball) like Lukhanyo, because that’s where it started for us and then Willie [le Roux]. People say so many things about Willie, but he provides the most assists for us.
“So well done to Chessie and all the guys in the back, they came through when we needed them.”
Kolisi added that despite his team being under constant pressure – on and off the field – throughout the series, the Boks’ never-say-die character is what got them through it all.
“One of the biggest things I love about this team, is that we don’t make excuses when times are tough. The character of the team – and the guys who could not play but kept on supporting – that attitude came through. We have a good work ethic and we found solutions.”
“You cannot motivate people anymore with rugby stories, what is driving everyone is what matters,” he said.
“They know how to get us up emotionally. It was easy to play for South Africa, although they were not here. People came out today on our way to the stadium. They did not have to, but still they came to wish us luck. You cannot let them down.”
Photo: Gallo Images