Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has praised versatile DHL Stormers and Western Province loose forward Siya Kolisi, after naming him in his latest Bok squad at the weekend.
Siya was one of five uncapped players named in a 30-man Springbok squad for the inaugural Castle Rugby Championship Series – which gets underway on Saturday, August 18, when South Africa face newcomers Argentina at DHL Newlands.
Kolisi was one of six young guns (along with Stormers teammate Frans Malherbe) that trained with the Boks but was not named in the actual test squad to face England in June.
But Meyer, in announcing his newest Springbok squad on Saturday, had nothing but praise for the young DHL Stormers and Western Province loose forward – who made such a huge impact in his first season of Vodacom Super Rugby.
“Siya is a very versatile player,” said Meyer, “I see him mostly as an openside flank, but he gives you the options that he can play at No 8 and blindside.
“I am very fortunate to have him and Marcell Coetzee, both of whom have just turned 21. It is great to see a few youngsters, along with Eben [Etzebeth] in the team.”
After blooding his DHL Stormers teammate, lock Eben Etzebeth, during the June Series against England – the Bok coach would be hoping that Siya could make a similar impact if given the chance.
Said Meyer: “Although you want to win short-term trophies, you also have to look at the long-term… so it is great to have these youngsters coming in.
“I am just thankful that SARU allowed me to have those young guns around in that training camp [in June].
“Even then I was impressed with Siya, the way he fitted in… he knows the gameplan now. This is the next step up for him and hopefully he will grab the opportunity.”
Kolisi – who turned 21 on Youth Day (on June 16 of this year) – has enjoyed a great rise in 2012, after his impressive Currie Cup debut last year which saw him walk off with Most Promising Senior Player Award at Western Province.
The powerful loose forward has been joined in the Bok squad by four of his DHL Stormers and WP teammates; captain Jean de Villiers, locks Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker (who will be hoping to add to his tally of 24 test caps now that he is back to full fitness), and record-breaking winger Bryan Habana.
“It’s important for us to build continuity in our squad, which is why we did not make too many changes,” explained Meyer.
“Andries was always in the selection frame, but got injured shortly before England arrived and was not available. It’s good to have him back.
“Pat (Cilliers) and Siya were also part of our thinking earlier in the season and have forced their way into the squad with consistently good performances in Super Rugby.”