Siya Kolisi’s move to the Sharks would represent an interesting ‘fresh start’ for the Springbok and Stormers captain, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
It increasingly looks as if it is just a matter of when – not if – Kolisi will make the move to the Durban-based side.
In early January, it was already known that there were talks around possibly negotiating an early release for Kolisi to be able to move to the Sharks sooner rather than later.
Although it has been reported that a hefty buy-out fee has already been agreed between Western Province and the Sharks, CEO Eduard Coetzee told SARugbymag.co.za on Tuesday that there were would be no payment of a so-called ‘transfer fee’.
It may be a matter of semantics, and the exact timing of the move remains to be seen, but with talks well under way there is no doubt that this is set to be a decisive career move for Kolisi.
As it is, the last 16 months since the 2019 World Cup final have been anything but straightforward.
Effectively as the face of the Springboks’ stunning victory in Japan, Kolisi was thrust into another stratosphere of sporting fame, headlined by his signing as the first rugby player to join powerhouse agency Roc Nation Sports.
To put it mildly, he has been in remarkably high demand as his commercial and ‘off-field’ responsibilities and opportunities have increased ten-fold following the World Cup success.
Beyond various appearances – from popping up on a DStv advert to visiting his beloved Liverpool’s iconic home ground, Anfield – Kolisi has had to juggle a number of ‘extra-mural’ activities.
Also, determined to use his platform for good, Kolisi has conducted meaningful work to aid those in need during the pandemic, while launching a project to build rugby fields in various townships.
It’s been a lot, and all the aforementioned outside responsibilities probably only just scratch the surface.
And then there has the been the challenge of suffering a serious knee injury at the start of the regular 2020 Super Rugby season, while Kolisi struggled to find any consistency in a stop-start domestic season that recently concluded with the Vodacom Bulls claiming the Currie Cup.
‘For me, personally, transitioning back on the field hasn’t been easy, we’ve carried over a lot of feeling and uncertainty from 2020,’ Kolisi admitted this week in an interview with Red Bull.
‘The last game at Newlands was supposed to be a big, special game and we were supposed to deliver. We obviously wanted to achieve so much more.
‘It’s been tough, but now I’m looking to start fresh. It’s a whole new year. It has to start first in your mind, and you’ve got to tell yourself, “Whatever has gone in the past, it is gone, it is done. I’m focusing on something new”, and find other ways of getting yourself up.’
For Kolisi, ‘something new’ is set to come in the form of a remarkable move to the Sharks after more than a decade-long association with Western Province rugby.
He’s admitted that he is a player that needs consistency in play, and it’s of utmost importance that he is able to settle into his stride, and to start contributing on the field as much as anywhere else.
Even in the immediate months that followed the Boks’ World Cup triumph, and the fanfare that followed, it’s no secret that the Springboks’ upper hierarchy were mindful of the escalating responsibilities that pulled Kolisi in various directions.
Even back then there was a recognition that there may need to be a recalibration of sorts to once again ‘let the main thing stay the main thing’, to quote Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup mantra.
As the Boks continue to prepare for a return to international action, the Bok coaches will desperately want Kolisi to be settled and starting to rediscover his best form.
The value of consistent, focused game time was seen at the World Cup itself, after all, with Kolisi returning from serious injury just before the showpiece event. And, as each game passed, he became more and more confident. By the time the playoffs arrived, the flank was one of the Boks’ most influential players.
‘I need to be playing game in, game out to find my flow and really hit my best, and that is absolutely the ambition,’ Kolisi just recently stated.
And, in that regard, the sooner he can settle in at the Sharks would surely be better in order to allow for the main thing to stay the main thing once again.
Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images