Rugby 24.7.2017 03:00 pm

Super Rugby: Please stay in South Africa, begs Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi is willing to stay in South Africa to keep local rugby competitive. Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images.

Siya Kolisi is willing to stay in South Africa to keep local rugby competitive. Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images.

The Stormers skipper and Springboks star believes the new wave of optimism in local rugby should make players think twice of leaving.

Siya Kolisi has made an impassioned plea with some of his countrymen to keep playing in South Africa.

The Stormers captain and Springboks flanker was particularly outspoken over local player’s continued exodus overseas after the Capetonians’ 11-17 Super Rugby playoff loss to the Chiefs.

Also read: Super Rugby: Chiefs handle pressure better to stave off Stormers

And he has a good reason: numerous stars are leaving the franchise now.

“It’s really tough for us to lose players now, especially the period we’re in now in South African rugby,” said Kolisi.

“Last year, the unspoken rule was that locally-based players deserved to be in contention before guys based overseas. However, we couldn’t tell players to stay because the Springboks weren’t doing well. You can’t tell a player to stay for the good of the national side if that team is struggling.”

2017 has, however, seen the Springboks turn over a new page.

Under the captaincy of Warren Whiteley and the input of new assistant coaches, the national side whitewashed the French 3-0 last month.

Suddenly, there’s a new wave of optimism and, possibly, more incentive to stay.

The Stormers, who believe they’ve improved on last year’s campaign, feel they’re in a similar situation.

“We can’t always compete against the Pound or the Euro. That’s the reality,” said Kolisi.

“But we’re trying to create something different here. We’re building a good culture. It’s not just about the money. We want to enjoy ourselves. We want to create a pleasant environment.

“If players can enjoy themselves here, maybe the good money overseas doesn’t become so attractive. Naturally, there are some older guys who move for financial security but it’s tough when younger guys go overseas. We wish them well.”

Indeed, while reliable centre Juan de Jongh probably is in a phase of his career where he needs to move on, too many younger Stormers have chased foreign currency.

Influential winger Cheslin Kolbe is 23, prop Oli Kebble 25, flyhalf Brandon Thompson 22 and centre Huw Jones 23.

Jones, to be fair, is a Scottish international.

Coach Robbie Fleck though is philosophical.

“It’s four guys we’re losing but at least the bulk of the squad remains,” he said.

“That’s the exciting part, it’s an opportunity to look a new players.”

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