Siya Kolisi knows he must step up his game to earn Springbok nod for Lions Tests
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DURBAN - Siya Kolisi is steadily building his way back to his best form according to his coach at the Sharks while the man himself says he is taking nothing for granted regarding Springbok selection for the series against the British and Irish Lions.
Kolisi played 60 minutes for the Sharks against the Stormers in the first Rainbow Cup SA match and at the weekend played 70 against the Lions and would have played the whole 80, according to coach Sean Everitt, had he not had to come off because of the yellow card to prop Thomas du Toit, which required a substitute prop to come on for a flank for scrumming purposes.
The Springbok captain has been making a comeback to rugby after barely playing since the 2019 World Cup final, with six months of lockdown and a series of injuries while he was still at his former team, the Stormers, sidelining him.
Before the Sharks played the Lions last week, Kolisi told reporters: “Every game I play now counts. If I am honest, I'm not yet where I need to be. If my performances aren’t good enough then I know for a fact that I won’t be chosen.”
But after the Sharks had beaten the Lions, Everitt said Kolisi had made positive strides in just his second competitive match since completing a tough conditioning programme at the Shark Tank.
“Siya is adapting very well to our style of play and his contributions to our game are getting better and better,” Everitt said. “He is training really well, his conditioning has improved really well and he got through 70 minutes before having to go off for the yellow card.
“He was able to push through and make some telling contributions — and some of the work he puts in is not always obvious to the public but it is very effective and it does influence the game,” the coach stressed. “I am talking about his ability to clean people away from the breakdown, which makes him a tough opponent to play against, as well as the more obvious carries and offloads he makes, some of which have contributed to tries.
“We are happy with where he is and he will continue to improve the more games he plays,” Everitt added.
Kolisi, meanwhile, is relishing simply playing, and he will be looking forward to the Sharks' visit to the Bulls on Saturday.
“All my energy is going into making the team again,” he said. “I’m enjoying what I am doing again and that is the most important thing. Before these recent games for the Sharks, the last genuinely good game I played was the World Cup final.”