DHL Stormers speedster Cheslin Kolbe is set for a long and successful career at DHL Newlands – a boyhood dream come true for him.
How does it feel to finally be a DHL Stormer after picking up that untimely injury in the pre-season?
“It’s a boyhood dream come true being in this environment and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger and Juan de Jongh. I watched Western Province and the DHL Stormers on TV back in my primary school days and never thought the day would come where I would be one of them.”
It must be disappointing that you won’t get to play as a DHL Stormer with Gio Aplon because of his injury and move to Grenoble in France.
“Gio had a big hand in any success I’ve achieved. He told me at the beginning of the season that he might be leaving. When I got injured, the prospect of touring with him also disappeared. It’s very disappointing.”
Was your injury the result of a freak accident at training?
“Yes, we were training at our pre-season camp in Hermanus when it happened. But I believe everything happens for a reason and works out for the better. It was very disappointing because I felt last year’s Currie Cup had set me up nicely for the pre-season and there was the prospect of playing for the Stormers. The three months on the sidelines felt like a few years.”
Where does your amazing stepping ability come from?
“I played a lot of touch rugby in the streets when I was a little boy and would run around the house stepping in and out of the rooms. I always tried to dodge people and think I’ve been blessed with the skill.”
You scored a remarkable try for DHL Western Province against Griquas in a Vodacom Cup match at DHL Newlands last year. Is that your favourite try to date?
“It’s one of my favourites. They kicked down-field and when I looked up, I spotted the opportunity as there was only one defender immediately in front of me.”
Having made your name as a fullback, how do you feel about playing wing?
“The roles and responsibilities are pretty much the same. You just have less time on the wing. You also have to go and look for work if the game isn’t coming your way. I just enjoy playing, irrespective of the position.”
Did you gain a lot of confidence from your performances in last year’s Absa Currie Cup?
“Yes, it helped me a lot. I learned a lot from the other players and being part of such a professional set-up. It’s a great tournament. We were encouraged to be dedicated and stay humble in striving to play to the best of our ability. The big thing that stood out for me was the mutual respect in the team environment. There was no negativity.”
How did you fall in love with WP?
“I have been a WP fanatic since I was a boy. I used to watch guys like Breyton Paulse and Egon Seconds scoring tries. One day, when I was at DHL Newlands with my uncle, I told him I’d like to play for this team because of the brand of rugby they play and the culture.”
Do you have any short- and long-term goals?
“When I was injured, I just went down on my knees and asked God to bring me back to a position from which I could reach my full potential and to make me a stronger person. My goal was to play Super Rugby and from here on I just want to take it step by step.”
You have a reputation as a strong attacking player, but have you made a point of working on all aspects of your game?
“Yes, you can’t just work on one area. A game of rugby involves attack, defence and controlled aggression. I’ve been working a lot on my defence and high-ball skills because as you progress, the opposition increasingly analyses you.”
What are the DHL Stormers playing for at the moment given that the play-offs are most likely out of reach?
“We are very proud of representing the Stormers and, in doing so, the region. It’s also important that we respect the legacy of players before us by playing well.”
Do you enjoy the Stormers’ new commitment to attacking rugby?
“It was actually there from day one, but the guys just couldn’t implement it the way we wanted to. We’ve made a decision to have fun and play for one another.”
How do you have fun off the field?
“I enjoy spending time in the company of friends.”
DHL Stormers Matchday Magazine