Grey High School in Port Elizabeth has a reputation for identifying and developing some of this country’s most promising young rugby talent.
This outstanding loose forward is one such talent. The 18-year-old, from Zwide in the Eastern Cape, was spotted at a youth week in 2004 by Grey and was offered a scholarship at the prestigious school.
Since then Kolisi has gone from strength to strength, having broken into the 1st XV in 2008, and his performances at Craven Week last year saw him rewarded with a call-up to the SA Schools team.
His displays also caught the eye of the Cheetahs’ scouts, who quickly offered him a contract. Kolisi kept them on hold for a while before finally signing a professional contract with the union earlier this year.
Dean Carelse, Kolisi’s coach at Grey High, believes it is the perfect move for the powerful loose forward.
‘The junior structures in place in the Free State are absolutely top notch,’ says Carelse. ‘They showed an interest in him last year already and I think from the point of view of a province that tries to look after the development of their younger players, you can’t really get better than them.
‘His rugby is also suited to the Cheetahs’ style of play. He’s been approached by every single union, but I think Free State are probably his best option at this stage in his career.’
While Kolisi has played mostly at openside flank for Grey, he operated from the back of the scrum for SA Schools. Carelse believes he is capable of playing in either position, but admits his skills are probably better suited to eighthman.
‘Siyamthanda is physically a big man and people find it hard to take him out. He breaks the advantage line regularly. His support play is really good and his defence is sound.
‘He’s not really your typical No 6 or 7 who hits the rucks and likes to do the work on the ground, but with ball-in-hand he is devastating.
‘He’s one of those players you don’t really want to touch. He reads the game well, knows what he’s doing on the field and is one of the special players we’ve produced over the past couple of years.’
Kolisi will represent Eastern Province again at Craven Week in 2009 where he should be in with a good shout of making SA Schools for the second season running. He will then join up with the Cheetahs at the end of the year.
By Andrew Worling
This article first appeared in SA Rugby magazine