Springbok captain Siya Kolisi’s legs looks fine at his final media briefing before the team embarked on the final phase of its Rugby World Cup defence on Saturday. He said his legs lack strapping on a knee that has been a source of contention for months.
Even more reassuring was the Bok captain’s claim that he was no longer thinking about the injuries that had kept him out of the beginning preparations and build-up of the world champions’ Rugby World Cup defence thus far when he came into touch.
Kolisi, who was named captain of the Boks’ 33-man squad on Tuesday and pronounced fit to participate in the first of the Boks’ World Cup warm-up games against Wales on August 19, has been subjected to intensive training in recent weeks.
He first joined the Sharks’ pre-season during the week that the Boks were in Buenos Aires for their first World Cup warm-up match against Argentina, and then he fully participated in what he described as the Boks’ frantic last training sessions before Saturday’s departure.
Kolisi seemed upbeat when asked if he was physically ready to be ahead of the Welsh friendly.
“You can only know that when you get on the field. Our training sessions help a lot because they’re like rugby club rugby games.
“The most important thing for me is I’m not thinking about the knee at the moment. The fitness will come. We had a session on Thursday where it got heated a little bit, but in a good way, and I forgot about my knee and just got stuck in.
“That’s a good sign. Getting over that [flinching in contact] is all I care about right now. I just need to get as many minutes on the field and in training as possible. The coaches are making sure that I don’t swap in during training and I stay on the whole time, which is tough on the fitness.”
Kolisi said he hadn’t battled with the dual load of his personal injury issues and attempting to be there for the squad as their captain.
“Right now I’m not worried about the knee. If something happens, it happens. If I go in there with those small voices in my head, I won’t be able to lead the group.
“That’s why training and what I do in the week have been so important … there’s no ways I’m playing and having doubts in my head.
“Also, what I enjoy about the leaders in the group, I can tell them ‘just take charge for a bit of time so I can focus on me’ because I’m always at my best when I’m playing and playing well.
“That’s why I rely on the other leaders when we came back from the World Cup, I’d say to Handre [Pollard]: ‘Listen, for the next few minutes can you make decisions? I just need to play a little bit’. And then later in the game I’d tell them I’m good again.
“I can be open and honest about that because it’s not about me, it’s about what the team needs at that time.”
Following the Wales game, the Boks’ final World Cup warm-up encounter is a blockbuster versus New Zealand on August 25 at Twickenham.