Kolisi primed for openside role

Siya Kolisi will provide openside flank cover for the Springboks during the Rugby Championship.

In his debut Super Rugby season for the Stormers, Kolisi played in every position in the loose trio. He was a key feature for the Cape franchise as they topped the log after the league phase, easing the loose forward injury crisis as Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Nick Koster and Nizaam Carr all succumbed to injury.

Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee confirmed his intention to develop the player into a versatile loose forward. He was a specialist blindside flank during the 2011 Currie Cup and has played No 8 for most of his career, but impressed at openside flank during Burger’s absence this year.

And this is the position he will play should he get a run for the Boks during the opening rounds in the Rugby Championship.

‘I’ve had a chat with the coaches, and I will play openside flank should I get a run,’ Kolisi told keo.co.za. ‘It’s a similar role to the one I played for the Stormers. It won’t be just about poaching. I will have to carry the ball and play a role in the lineouts too. Heyneke Meyer has told me that it helps a lot to be a lineout option. These are two things I really want to work on and improve.’

With Burger out for the season and Heinrich Brussow out of favour, Kolisi will provide back-up for first-choice No 6 Marcell Coetzee. And the 21-year-old stressed that he’s ready to take whatever opportunity comes his way.

‘The main message passed on to me when I first arrived this week was to learn as much as I can and to be prepared at all times. When Schalk got injured, I had to be prepared to do the job. And I was. So when my chance comes in the Bok team, I will be ready to take the field whenever the team needs me.

‘I believe I’ve earned this chance to play for the Boks. I worked really hard this season. I can’t wait to play against the best, that’s what Test rugby is all about.’

Kolisi added that his early introduction to the Bok structures has helped him settle into the squad. He was one of seven youngsters, which included flank Arno Botha (Bulls), prop Frans Malherbe (Stormers), flank CJ Stander (Bulls), centre Francois Venter (Bulls) and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl (Cheetahs), who trained with the team during the June Test window.

‘I know the structures, so it hasn’t been difficult to settle in. I hope to make my Test debut soon. It doesn’t matter where it comes, it will be very special for me. But I would love for it to happen in Cape Town, especially after a good season with the Stormers. That would be the cherry on top after a great year.’

By Gareth Duncan, in Cape Town