• Kolisi: It feels like my first day at school

    Siya Kolisi feels the timing could not be better to make a ‘new beginning’ at the Sharks, but has conceded he will have to prove himself both on and off the field. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

    In a recruitment that has become an open secret in South African rugby, the Sharks officially confirmed on Wednesday that Kolisi would be joining the franchise on a multi-year deal.

    After arriving in Durban, Kolisi spent time at Kings Park, and conducted his first media engagements in the colours of the Sharks.

    With a beaming smile at the ready, Kolisi said he had woken up happy and at peace about the decision to join the Sharks after recently closing an 11-year chapter with Western Province Rugby.

    ‘I’m excited to be here, it’s an honour and privilege. One chapter closes, and now a new one opens for me and my family. From a rugby point of view, it feels like the first day of school. I have to start fresh again, fight again, but I have that feeling I had as a young boy when I first started playing – it’s something that I need right now in my career.

    ‘I have to earn the respect of my new teammates, and I’m looking forward to that. I’m hoping I can play my part both on and off the field.’

    ‘It’s going to be a fight for all of us because there are amazing loose forwards here. What I did in the past doesn’t matter because it’s a new beginning for me and I have to prove myself again. Last year for me as a rugby player was really tough, with injuries and other things.

    ‘I’m the biggest critic of myself, and I know that if I don’t do well on the field then everything else off the field doesn’t really matter. I’m excited to compete for positions and play alongside guys like [Sikhumbuzo] Notshe.’

    TIMELINE: Kolisi’s journey so far

    During Wednesday’s media conference it was confirmed that Kolisi had received an offer to extend his contract at the Stormers, but had personally taken care of a transfer fee in order to join the Sharks sooner rather than later.

    He also explained why going overseas was not a consideration at this stage of his career.

    ‘I thought a while ago, after the 2015 World Cup that I wanted to consider going overseas. It was a tough period in my career. But then again I thought about the work I do as a person off the field, which is really important to me, and it’s one of the reasons I love the game.

    ‘Rugby opens a lot of opportunities for people, although obviously the most important thing is playing well, and I knew that if I went away it would be difficult to do the work I wanted to. So I made a decision that I wanted to stay in South Africa as long as I can, and I always said if I ever left Cape Town, this was always the only place for me.

    ‘Seeing the guys here, and playing against them, I know a lot of them and have formed relationships with them. There’s a culture and a vibe at the Sharks, which I honestly knew was the best place for me to come to.’

    Photo: Steve Haag Sports

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    Craig Lewis