Kolisi: Smit has open-door policy

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says the advice of former players such as John Smit has helped him as he prepares to lead the team against the British & Irish Lions.

Kolisi was talking during an episode of an investigative TV series by ‘Carte Blanche’, looking at how the Springboks will cope during a B&I Lions series amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The unique restrictions that come with the pandemic mean the Springboks have to train and play in a bio-bubble environment, while also facing the Lions in an empty stadium.

During the episode, Kolisi said the advice of former Springboks such as Smit, who captained the Boks to a Lions series win in 2009, has been key during this time.

“It’s intense,” Kolisi said. “You have got to be on your game at all times. You have to come together as soon as possible. It’s been different for us, so talking to the old guys also helps.

“John Smit, he has an open-door policy with me. Whenever I want to talk to him, I can talk to him. So, there is no set meetings where I have to call him. I can call him any time and say, ‘Smitty, I am struggling here’.

“We are fortunate to have guys like Rassie [Erasmus]. He always teaches us in what he learned as a player, the mistakes he made and the good things that worked for him.

“There is also a lot of youth, who can bring that excitement or that energy when we are lacking.”

Smit himself spoke during the episode and was asked what Kolisi had to do to replicate what he did during the previous Lions tour.

“He’s just got to score the first try in the first five minutes,” Smit joked, with reference to his own feat against the Lions in 2009.

“It’s about getting his group back in the same rhythm they were two years ago in Tokyo.”

Photo: Steve Haag

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Dylan Jack