England v South Africa – Siya Kolisi aims to hit right Twickenham note on and off field

South Africa's captain Siya Kolisi.
South Africa's captain Siya Kolisi.
0
Have your say

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi is looking forward to a sing-song with friends Tom Curry and Maro Itoje – but only after England and the Springboks “bash each other up”.

Stormers flanker Kolisi grows ever more composed as the statesman captain so constantly craved by South Africa’s rugby-mad public. The 27-year-old exuded all that off-field calm when marking the difference between Test-arena battle and post-match camaraderie.

Kolisi revealed England players struck up some traditional South African songs in post-match catch-ups during the two sides’ June Test series.

Now the 37-cap loose-forward expects more old-school bonding – but only after the business of today’s Test at Twickenham is complete.

“I spoke to some of the players after the last game (in June),” said Kolisi.

“It was different because I had never played against them before, it was my first time playing England. I chatted to them afterwards, we had a couple of sing-songs with some the players, it was an amazing experience, just chatting to them.

“They were surprised with things you know. They probably thought you didn’t know anything about them.

“It was really cool, that is the most amazing thing about rugby: we bash each other up for 80 minutes and afterwards we chat and get to know each other.

“I have been chatting to them every now and then. Tom Curry sends me a message every now and then and Maro (Itoje).

“All those friendships, you get closer to the guys and get to know them better so after the game we can chat, but on the field it is a bit different.

“They started Shosholoza and we started singing South African songs. We had a function at the end of the last game, it was quite cool.

“There is no chatting before the game though, it is just silence. You want to be focused on the game. We will chat afterwards, not before.”

Kolisi’s stewardship of the Boks’ famed captaincy would harbour huge scrutiny whatever the circumstances.

But if his status as the nation’s first black leader adds any extra pressure he shrugs it off in the style fully befitting a genuine rugby role model.

“It’s very tough to be Springbok captain, but for me I can’t change who I am so I carry on being myself,” explained Kolisi.

“Obviously I have more responsibility off the field, but on the field, for me, the main priority is to perform.

“The coach (Rassie Erasmus) has made my job so much easier because his main focus is for me to put in the best that I can for as long as I’m on the field for, so that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on, not everything else outside the field.

“Off-the-field stuff, it’s a lot more than when you’re just playing, you’ve got a lot more responsibilities, but the main focus for me has just been making sure I can deliver every single time I play.”