It’s still unbelievably tacky but the Western Province loose forward unavoidably remains somewhat of a pawn of transformation in many minds – a situation exacerbated by Saru’s renewed commitment towards better representation through newly instituted quotas.
Consult numerous discussion forums and parrot cries of racism by Springbok management will inevitably creep up regarding Kolisi’s non-selection.
But the wonderful thing about the 23-year-old is that he’s more than amped to quell that anger – as well-meaning as it is to his cause.
“The honest truth is that I haven’t been really performing this year,” said Kolisi, who earned ten Bok caps last year, on Tuesday.
“It’s the reason why I’m not worried about Springbok selection at the moment. There’s no honour in gaining a place in a side when you don’t really deserve it.”
That honesty extends to why he’s slumped since his rise to prominence last year.
A shoulder injury earlier this year could’ve provided the perfect excuse – and some observers have even been willing to let him off the hook due to that affliction – yet Kolisi isn’t at all averse to admit that it’s mostly down to psychological frailty, a very real problem that’s still not admitted to as freely in the testosterone-driven milieu that is rugby.
“Naturally the injury didn’t help. I’m still working hard on getting back to peak fitness but to put that down as the main factor for my poor form would be foolish,” he said.
“The truth is that my confidence hasn’t been great this season. Most of my struggles have been a head thing. I didn’t perform from the start and when I started sitting on the bench, it affected me. Our depth here is excellent. If you’re not going to contribute, someone else is going to take your place.”
He’s been granted redemption though in the current Currie Cup campaign and, neatly, in the position where he’s most likely to find a way back into international rugby – at No 6.
“I know I’ve been playing on the blindside but moving to the openside hasn’t been an issue for me,” said Kolisi.
“It’s not that hard to adapt I feel. Your focus is more on the breakdowns but it’s a responsibility I was tasked with even as a ball-carrier at No 7. It’s now about honing my skills at 6. That’s all I’m worried about, Springbok selection will come again if my priorities are right.”
In conjunction with Michael Rhodes and Nizaam Carr, Kolisi has already in the first two weeks of Currie Cup action made the Province loose trio one of their standout departments – rivalled only by the Lions, their opponents at Newlands this weekend.
“We’re doing well because we know each other well,” he noted.
“But it’s also down to the fact that we possess a variety of skills. Michael’s strong and gives us another line-out option, I’m lighter and can move around the park and Nizaam has proved to be a superb link between the forwards and backs. I’m enjoying playing in that combination.”