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Will Kolbe take the gap?

Wed, 04 Dec 2013 11:33
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We are looking around for a bit of experience in the back three
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The lack of experienced wings in the Stormers set-up means that young Chelsin Kolbe will get a chance to step up in Super Rugby next year.

The loss of Bryan Habana and Gerhard van den Heever has left the Cape side without much experience out wide, and although they are still on the look-out for some seasoned wings they are also more than willing to back the explosive 20-year-old next year.

Following an impressive Junior World Championship campaign with the SA Under-20 side in France and his debut for the Springbok Sevens team, Kolbe was given the chance to make his mark in the Currie Cup for Western Province, and he did not disappoint.

Under the guidance of Springbok outside back Gio Aplon he was able to shine in the provincial competition, terrorising defences with his speed off the mark and clinical finishing which has many convinced that he can make an impact in Super Rugby.

Stormers backline coach Rob Fleck told this website that he is excited to see what Kolbe can do in Super Rugby next year.

"One thing we do at the Stormers and Western Province is back our youngsters and we showed that in the Currie Cup, Cheslin Kolbe came through and had an outstanding season.

"Cheslin was outstanding and we are not afraid to throw him in Super Rugby, he has proven at every age-group level that he can perform," he said.

Fleck admitted that they are still looking for some experienced players to fill the gaps left by the likes of Habana, and added that although Kolbe will get his chance he will also be managed very carefully.

"Obviously we are looking around for a bit of experience in the back three, they are not easy to find but we are extremely happy with the guys that we have got and we are prepared to back the younger guys.

"For us the most important thing is that we look after him as best as we can and manage him the correct way during Super Rugby. It is a tough tournament, it is a lot harder than Currie Cup and you can't expect to play him every game but if we manage him correctly I think he will perform at his best," he said.

Kolbe will feature for the Blitzbokke at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this weekend, and Fleck said that the Stormers were happy to let him go and gain more experience.

"I think it is great for Cheslin, he has played a lot of rugby but he wanted to go and play and we backed him. It is great for Sevens as well and he will come back nice and fit," he said.

With Springbok utility back Jaco Taute working his way back to full fitness after a long-term knee injury, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee will have a few versatile backline players at his disposal next season and the big challenge will be to find the right balance.

"We will be very happy when Jaco Taute comes back fit and ready, but where to put him? In my opinion Gio Aplon was the best fullback in the country in the Currie Cup, he performed extremely well for us and he is an option again there for us.

"Jaco Taute is coming back from a major injury and he needs time to get back but once he is back then we have got options," said Fleck.

Another player that will be back in the mix is flyhalf Peter Grant which means that when Kolbe does get his chance in Super Rugby he will be surrounded by experience.

With players such as Grant, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh and Aplon around him the youngster should be well set to show he belongs at Super Rugby level.

By Michael de Vries

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