The Springboks’ original “pocket rocket”, Breyton Paulse, believes fears that Cheslin Kolbe is too small for Test rugby are unfounded.
National coach Rassie Erasmus surprised last week by including the former Stormers star, who only stands 1.72m in his boots, for the Australasian leg of the Rugby Championship.
The 24-year-old has been a sensation since joining French club Toulouse last year, with the French media hailing him as one of the best overseas signings in years.
“When I heard (Kolbe was picked), I was very happy. The tradition in South Africa has been that smaller players are a “no-go”,” Paulse told SARugbymag.
“His selection is very exciting.”
Paulse himself had to win over critics at the turn of the century as many doubted his ability to meet the physical demands of international rugby.
Yet he managed to win them over and eventually scored 26 tries in 64 Tests.
He insists Kolbe will bring a similar X-factor to the Springbok setup.
“Cheslin is a player who will bring a different dimension in terms of his game-breaking abilities. In a time when we have not been doing so well over the past three or four years, it will not do any harm to give a guy like Cheslin the opportunity,” said Paulse.
“He is a small guy but is a tough and dynamic player too. I don’t think we need to worry about his defence because he is a little dynamite. People sometimes don’t realise it is tougher to tackle a smaller guy. I managed to slip through a lot of tackles because I was a bit smaller. The bigger guys sometimes present a bigger target to tackle.”
The Springboks play the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.