Siya Kolisi becomes a Shark

Siya Kolisi

The curtain came down on Siya Kolisi ‘s career with South Africa’s Super Rugby side Stormers. He begins a new chapter at Durban-based side Sharks and has been officially unveiled as their player this week. After 11-years and 115 appearances, we take a look back at his sterling tenure in Cape Town.

Kolisi made his debut for the Stormers in a 39-26 win over the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands in February 2012. It took just 26 minutes for the back-row forward to open his try-scoring account after crossing the whitewash from a line-out maul. He went on to make 115 appearances in total, 98 of which were starts. Only South African legend Schalk Burger has more caps for the Stormers (123). Although he missed the second half of his debut season due to injury, Kolisi returned in 2013 to nail down a starting spot in the team as a loose forward, despite fierce competition from the likes of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Nizaam Carr.

Thanks to this resilience, Kolisi was rewarded with his first call up to the Springboks for the 2013 Rugby Championship. He was awarded his first cap for his national side from the bench in a game against Scotland in June 2013. South Africa won the game 30-17 and Kolisi was named man of the match. Four years later, after becoming a regular starter in the side, Kolisi was named Stormers club captain in February 2017 and just over a year later, in May 2018, was also named Springbok captain, becoming the first black player to captain South Africa in their 126-year history. Roll forward 18 months after being named captain and the young man from the Zwide township in Port Elizabeth was lifting the Web Ellis Cup for South Africa after beating England in the World Cup final in Toyko.

Kolisi has 50 international caps to his name so far and will continue to feature for the Springboks in years to come. His time at the Stormers, however, has sadly come to an end. He leaves the club after playing an impressive total of 7382 minutes, scoring 95 points (19 tries). Kolisi leaves behind a lasting legacy in Cape Town – growing up from virtually nothing, after being born into abject poverty, to climbing the ranks in the Western Province youth setup, to captaining the Stormers and staying faithful to his side for over a decade.

The Springbok captain not only makes an impact on the pitch but strives to make a positive impact off it too. In 2020, Kolisi and his wife, Rachel, set up The Kolisi Foundation that works to combat inequality in South Africa. The couple believes that every small act of kindness does help make a difference. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Kolisi Foundation has been providing support and equipment to healthcare workers and has been supplying food packages to poverty-stricken areas of their home country. Kolisi draws on his own experiences of childhood as motivation to change the scope of South African poverty and offer the people of townships a chance of a better life. Kolisi was raised in the worst of environments in the poor township of Zwide but through rugby has built himself a life with which he can lend his hand and his heart to helping the thousands of others living in similar situations.

What can Kolisi bring to the Sharks?

At 29-years-old, Kolisi still has so much to offer the world of rugby. His consistency in Super Rugby over the past 11 years speaks for itself. At 99kg, he carries the ball with real intent, almost always breaking the gain line and edging his team forward with pace. Support play is also a huge strength of his, constantly busting a gut to be at the heart of the play and looking for a chance to get on the end of an offload to keep the game alive. As impressive as he is in attack, Kolisi also thrives in defense. He made 57 tackles in the 2019 World Cup, with a 92% success rate. He seems to cover every blade of grass and never shies away from throwing himself into challenges for the benefit of his team.

Debatably the most important thing that Kolisi brings to the Sharks is his leadership. He has the experience of being a top-level captain both on and off the pitch. There are seven players currently in the Sharks squad that have been internationally capped, meaning a good group of first-team players have already worked alongside Kolisi and built a relationship with him before he even plays his first game for them. Furthermore, there are numerous young talents at the Sharks that are looking to break into the Springboks side that will have the chance to prove their worth to the SA captain and learn a lot from his ability. Additionally, Kolisi knows how to win. His grit, determination and hunger to be the best will rub off on the rest of the squad and drive them towards success. He knows what it takes to win the greatest prize in rugby, both physically and mentally, and that is something priceless he can take into the Sharks dressing room. It is fair to say Kolisi is a true all-rounder of modern rugby and fans of the Sharks should be excited for what is to come.

Behinds the scenes, Kolisi is supported by ROC Nation Sports – a company that focuses on enhancing athlete’s careers by pushing them to get involved with community outreach projects and charity work, as well as assisting them with media relations, sponsorship deals and brand endorsements. ROC Nation boasts an impressive roster of world-class sportsmen that includes the likes of Kyrie Irvine, Marcus Rashford and Sugar Ray Leonard. Within rugby, they are currently only supporting Toulouse and Springbok winger Cheslin Kolbe and Saracens and England lock Maro Itoje but with the addition of a Rugby World Cup-winning captain, many more could soon be joining the extensive list of premier athletes. The company has an incredible follower count of over 1.45 billion people across their social media channels and with Kolisi’s influence, will only rise higher with the recruitment of more top-level rugby players.

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