Johannesburg – New Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has made it clear that he may be the first black captain of the national team, but he is here to inspire every person in South Africa.
Kolisi spoke to the media for the first time since being appointed on Monday and while he admits that the reality of the situation hasn’t sunk in quite yet, he was adamant that the appointment wasn’t in any way political or to appease a certain group of people, according to supersport .
The soft-spoken Kolisi, who is a popular figure among his teammates, used the moment of a politically charged question to remind everyone that the Springboks play for the entire country and not just one group of people. He rejected the premise that Rassie Erasmus had appointed him for political expediency as well.
“It’s genuine for me from him (Rassie). He is not that type of person,” Kolisi said.
“I’ve known him since I was 18 years old and he is straightforward with me. He has had a sit down with me and spoke to me, and that is how it is like with all the players. You always know where you stand with him. The most important thing is to make sure we win and perform on Saturday.
“Obviously if I have questions I will go to him and he will answer me in a straightforward manner. I don’t have any questions or any hesitation, he has told me exactly why he has appointed me and I am happy with that. Coach Rassie is not a politician, I am also not a politician. I am a rugby player and all I want to do is do well, and play well.
“I want to inspire, not only black people in South Africa. I am not only representing the one group. He showed us a picture on Saturday when we were playing, and showed us a picture from the back and what you see in front of you is every single race. That is who we are representing so I can’t stand here and say I’m representing the whole of South Africa. That’s why we have the South African flag on our chest and our jersey.”
Kolisi was also reminded that while the majority of the country was happy with his appointment there seemed to be a small minority of people who didn’t quite agree with Erasmus’ appointment.
“It is always like that, that is just life. That is how things happened,” he shrugged.
“I can’t focus on what people are saying. I’m also sometimes unhappy with other people’s decisions. I can’t focus on that, I can only focus on people that really matter to me and always support me. For the coach to show this much faith in me, I am going to give everything I can and to do my best to make sure I deliver on Saturdays.
“He has only asked one thing of me and that is to make sure I perform on Saturday. So that is what I want to do and focus on the positive. I can’t control what everybody thinks of me, I can only control what I can do on the field. That my main focus.”
Kolisi said the gravitas of the situation was only likely to hit him next Saturday at Ellis Park when he leads the team onto the field.
“To be honest when I play my first game it will really hit me that I’m a Springbok captain. You know me, I am just proud to be a captain.
“It means a lot to me and it is a huge privilege and an honour. I think I will realise it when I’m playing. But for not I am just working and doing what I can do to help the guys going to play Wales. We’ve been training with the Wales team, so we haven’t really focused on England.
“The coach hasn’t put a lot of pressure on me, all he wants is for me to play well and be the person who I am. He knows me well, and knows I am not a person of many words.
“He has been with me since I was 18 years old, and he knows me very well. I’m not going to lie and say it’s a new coaching staff and I still need to get to know them. I know him very well, I know coach Stick very well. We won’t have excuses afterwards and say we are still getting to know each other. That is out of the window.”