Mark Keohane writing for IOL Sport and Independent Media Publications.
Siya Kolisi’s story makes for a best seller because it allows every child to dream that anything is possible, but it has been his humility in telling the story that screams about the authenticity of South Africa’s third World Cup-winning captain.
Kolisi’s calmness has always been an overwhelming part of his professional make-up. He leads through work ethic and with a seeming serenity. From where I sit when reporting on and writing about the Springboks and Kolisi, I don’t see a leader who rules by fear or by unchallenged and misguidedly challenged emotion. I have always been comforted in knowing his leadership is based on action more than words.
Kolisi has always been a very good rugby player and leader of teams, but it needed a coach, in Rassie Erasmus, to entrust him with the captain’s armband.
And by entrust, I mean a coach who always speaks about the player’s ability more than he speaks simply of captaincy.
Erasmus, when he appointed Kolisi, said what had encouraged him was that Kolisi, throughout his professional career, had not changed his character. Erasmus had worked with a young Kolisi and Western Province and the Stormers. What he found 18 months ago, when taking charge of the Springboks, was an evolved version of the young Kolisi. He found a player who was respectful of the game, his teammates and the opposition and he found a young man who was significantly improved as a rugby player.
Kolisi’s first inclination is to credit Erasmus, the leadership group within the Springboks and his teammates, but when you speak to them, they have no hesitation in hailing their captain.
Kolisi is a captain who speaks to an entire team and he is also a captain who speaks to an entire South African nation. He has successfully led South African rugby to the promised land, 24 years after the late Madiba pointed in the direction of this promised land.