Kolisi opens up on struggles with alcohol

In his official autobiography, Siya Kolisi lifts the lid on his battle with alcohol abuse during his early years with the Springboks and how he bounced back to lead the team to World Cup glory.

‘Rise’ details Kolisi’s success on and off the rugby field, but also recalls the tougher parts of his career.

Kolisi made his Test debut in 2013 and became South Africa’s first black captain in 2018, leading the Springboks to a 2019 World Cup and 2021 Lions series win.

However, in an excerpt from his autobiography published by the Sunday Times, Kolisi revealed that his time with the national team was not always rosy.

The loose forward opened up on the shame of how he conducted himself around the period of the 2015 World Cup in England, a time when he was not a regular in the team.

“Whenever I had time off, I just drank. I was bored and feeling sorry for myself, there were other guys around in the same boat who were always happy to hang out, and it was all too easy for me to hit the bars and pubs and be a good-time guy,” he writes in an extract published by the Sunday newspaper.

“Rachel [my wife] had come out with baby Nick, and this would have been the perfect opportunity to spend some time with them; but no, I preferred to be out with the boys. It was an awful time for her, and I was too selfish to realise. In the end Rachel got fed up with me being a jerk and flew home a week early.”

In a further interview with the Guardian, Kolisi spoke about how his wife helped him turn his life around by guiding him towards a Christian mentor, Ben Schoeman.

“Siya, you drink a lot, you fool around with women, you go to strip clubs. You post on social media about your faith in Christ, but you’re lying to yourself and everyone else,” Kolisi said Schoeman told him.

“I started opening up to him and we spoke deeply. He told me I needed to stop drinking. It was tough at the beginning but now I don’t miss it,” Kolisi told the Guardian.

“I want to encourage people that it’s OK to look for help. Too many people commit suicide out of desperation because they’re too proud to talk to someone else.

“I want to encourage men to speak because they don’t talk to each other. Men don’t open up or want to cry. Men want to look strong at all times. But life is not about that. You can’t carry all that weight because it can break you.”

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Dylan Jack