Revitalised Siya Kolisi ready to roll in World Cup year
But the Bok captain cautions they need to adapt to the new ways the game is being played
After having played for a full year nonstop, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says a month off has been manna from heaven.
Kolisi, who is one of 14 players attending a three-week Springbok training camp in Cape Town, says though they entered uncharted waters with the redrawing of the season after SA Rugby (Saru) entered the United Rugby Championship, the country’s top players can now go into a World Cup year head-on.
“It’s been great. We had a month off, and that was good for us,” Kolisi enthused. “Some of us have been playing since last year January, and we ended this year January. It’s something we’ve never done before.
“Saru and the unions came to an agreement that some players can get off, and it’s been really good.”
Kolisi conceded training at the camp has been tough. “We’ve enjoyed it. We’ve enjoyed the recapping, looking at where we were, what our goals were the year before, and seeing how far we’ve gone and if we’ve achieved the goals or not.”
Kolisi, who operates to a packed schedule, took a while to hit form after he left the Stormers for the Sharks in 2021. He’s in better shape now and he feels stronger.
“I feel like I am getting better the older I am getting, and it’s all due to preparation and my body feels good too.”
He says his focus is to play well and contribute to the Sharks’ cause and that he “hopefully” gets selected for the Rugby World Cup squad.
During the camp the coaches made it clear the Springboks will have to be better prepared than they were in 2019 if they want to keep their title.
The game has moved on and Test rugby’s top exponents will almost all arrive at the tournament in better shape than four years ago.
“We’re growing and the nice thing about it is that the coaches have set the standard and said there’s no way you can do what you did in 2019 and win now,” said Kolisi.
“The game has changed, the rules are changing the whole time, and the game is getting faster. So, we’re working hard on our fitness,” he said.
The Boks have already developed good habits. Kolisi pointed out that they rank among the teams that conceded the least number of penalties. “And we want to take it down even more,” he said, adding that the game is being contested at a lower body height. Players clattering into each other while almost upright tend to draw unwelcome attention from officialdom.
“That’s what we’re working on. We’re big men but you don’t get a lot of us making tackles higher than they should be because we’ve worked so hard on our fundamentals to make sure that, whatever the rule is, we’re already doing that,” said the Bok captain.
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