Kolisi on the 'open' road
Kolisi on the 'open' roadSHARE
The next chapter in Siyamthanda Kolisi's 'rags to riches' story could be written on the hallowed turf of Murrayfield on Saturday.
Having made all nine his Test appearances off the bench, since his debut against Scotland at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on June 15, at the tender age of 21, the now 22-year-old could make his first start against the same Scottish team in Edinburgh on Saturday.
Kolisi is on standby for the injured Willem Alberts, who is struggling with an AC shoulder joint problem and rated by coach Heyneke Meyer as just 50-50 to feature in Sunday's international against the Scots.
Meyer, who said he won't be taking any risk with one of his star players, Alberts, added that Kolisi is being groomed to be a future Bok openside flank.
Although a product of Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, it is his humble beginnings in the Zwide township near Port Elizabeth that makes him an icon and a prime example that transformation can work when driven correctly and with the right motives.
The Bok mentor said that long-term Kolisi will be an openside flank in the national team.
"He has really improved a lot," Meyer told a media briefing in Edinburgh, adding: "I am really happy we brought him in [into the Bok set-up] slowly and got him involved in most of the Test matches.
"I always believe that your blindside flank is a momentum gainer and a momentum stopper. I feel that a guy like Willem Alberts doesn't always get the credit he deserves. We've got an award in our team for the biggest hit and he has won it every single game, bar one.
"He always puts in the most hits and the biggest hit – he puts his body on the line."
Turning back to Kolisi, the coach said: "Siya has a big engine on him – he can really contest and get around the park and can also carry the ball.
"However, I think behind Flow [Francois Louw] we have worked hard with him [Kolisi] and Marcell Coetzee to have specialist openside flanks.
"That is one thing in South Africa we really need.
"He [Kolisi] has developed well and in future he must focus on openside flank, because he has all the attributes. He has worked really hard with [Scotsman] Richie [Gray] on his breakdown skills and he has really improved.
"It is great to have him [available][ in both positions, but he needs to specialise going forward."
At the start of 2012 not many people would have known who Kolisi was. Fifty minutes into the 2012 Super Rugby season, as a replacement for his captain Schalk Burger, the world sat up and took notice.
His performances for the Stormers saw him train with the Springboks before a broken thumb sustained in the Currie Cup cut his season short.
However, that first Test cap came – ironically also as an injury replacement – four minutes into the Test against Scotland in Nelspruit, when Arno Botha was forced off.
The rest, as they say, is history!