Boks won’t be gripped by fear in World Cup final against All Blacks, insists Cheslin Kolbe

28 October 2023 - 09:30 By LIAM DEL CARME IN PARIS
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Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe.
Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe.
Image: Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty Images

There may be the overwhelming sentiment that the Bok Class of '23 is more streetwise and battle hardened than the vintage that won the Rugby World Cup in Japan four years ago but Cheslin Kolbe finds comparisons odious. 

Kolbe, to be fair, is not known for running with the herd and revels in wide open spaces. 

“We don’t like to compare ourselves to four years ago,” said the Bok wing on the eve of the Rugby World Cup final.

“A lot has changed — the team, the culture, the opportunities the players have got. It is a team that has developed, that has experience, that has grown together more than what we were four years ago.

“The brotherhood, the love we have for one another, it is massive for us,” explains Kolbe, who turns 30 on Saturday. 

The winger's try in Yokohama against England in the last final within the context of the contest, was like a samurai's sword to the heart. 

More heartbreak awaits the loser at the Stade de France but Kolbe and his teammates are undaunted by the challenge.

They will not be gripped or in any way inhibited by fear. 

“Not every rugby player or team gets the opportunity to play in a Rugby World Cup final so to do so twice in a row is massive for South Africa.

“Where we come from, what the Springboks have been through, all the obstacles we have had to overcome as a team, just shows what our country means, what this jersey means, (so we're) not only doing it for ourselves but really hoping to inspire our whole country.” 

In his mind's eye, Kolbe can already see moments in which he can pounce in the way he so decisively did against England four years ago. 

“It is about visualising certain scenarios of the game and how they will go and mentally and physically making sure we are well prepared. We want to bring about a calmness as well.” 

He said growing up he eyed the Springboks' clashes against the All Blacks as an environment he'd love to be part of.

“Playing against the All Blacks, it is history, it has always been a massive rivalry and it has been like that for years, two of the toughest teams playing each other. 

“It is going to be a massive challenge but one that the Springbok team is looking forward to.” 

His battle with try-scoring ace Will Jordan will be one of the game's keenly observed battles.

Should the Boks suffer unwanted injury, his talents my be drawn elsewhere as he is the designated backup scrumhalf should Faf de Klerk yield to injury. 

The last time he did duty at scrumhalf at Test level was in 2021 against Argentina, he recalled. 

“Whatever plan the coaches have, it is up to the players to buy into it as soon as possible. For me, with a bit of a sevens background, I have played at scrumhalf or sweeper, as we call it, and I have played one or two games internationally at scrumhalf. 

“Faf has given me some input to make sure I am up to standard in case I am in that position tomorrow night, but I am sure Faf will carry us through to the end. Whatever position I am playing, it is just to have a positive impact on the game for the Springbok jersey and my teammates.” 

Kolbe of course is no stranger to scaling great heights in this country.

In his time with Toulouse they conquered France and the continent.

Now the world awaits.

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