August 17, 2018 / 3:35 PM / 3 months ago

Settled Kolisi ready to lead from the front against Argentina

DURBAN (Reuters) - Siya Kolisi says he has settled into his role as captain of South Africa after his whirlwind appointment in June and is looking for a strong start when the Springboks host Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener at King’s Park on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's captain Siya Kolisi in action at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - June 9, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Kolisi, the first black captain of the Bok test team in history, was appointed for the 2-1 series win over England in June, but says much of that was a blur given the media attention that his new role caused around the world.

In the weeks since the 27-year-old has been able to settle into the captaincy, but says overall he just wants to be measured by what he contributes on the field.

“It does feel a lot more relaxed and rugby-focused now that I’ve had some time in the captaincy role, and I just want to be measured on my effort on the field,” Kolisi told reporters on Friday.

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a good opportunity to get some pre-season training under my belt and I’m feeling a lot stronger than I did in June or during Super Rugby.”

The loose-forward has been switched from the number six to seven jersey for the clash with the Pumas, where he will be asked to carry the ball more and use his natural pace and power.

“For me, it’s not just about running, passing and doing those flashy things. I want to be chasing kicks, tackling and making sure I’m on my feet at all times. What (coach) Rassie (Erasmus) wants to see from everyone is real effort, so I want to go as hard as I can for as long as I can,” he said.

The Boks endured a torrid two seasons since finishing third at the 2015 World Cup, winning only 11 of their 25 tests. However, their series win over England showed a vast improvement and Kolisi says they have to build on that in the southern hemisphere championship.

“We really want to build on what we started in June, and to keep getting better and better as a team. Rassie has a long-term plan in place for this team and it’s about hopefully winning and learning along the way,” Kolisi said.

“It’s really important to win at home and make a good start to this competition, and so we just want to ensure that we play with plenty of energy and intensity.”

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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