World Cup-winner Chester Williams says Springbok wing Cheslin Kolbe has the work rate and the intelligence to seamlessly make the move to the left wing, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Aphiwe Dyantyi was a sure starter in the No 11 jersey for the Springboks at next month’s World Cup after a phenomenal rookie season in 2018. However, his wings were clipped following a hamstring injury shortly before the Rugby Championship opener against Australia, as well as a positive test for a banned substance.
Sharks speedster Makazole Mapimpi has featured on the left wing for the Boks and put in some industrious performances. However, he has been overshadowed by Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi, the two No 14s Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has used so far this year.
Kolbe was outstanding in the tie against the All Blacks in Wellington on the right wing, and put in another top display when the Boks clinched the Rugby Championship with a win over Argentina in Salta. In that particular match he also played scrumhalf while Faf de Klerk was in the sin bin.
Nkosi is the Boks’ premier finisher after scoring two rippers against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld, while he also scored a beauty against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.
Kolbe and Nkosi are the form wings in the Bok squad, and it would make sense if one of them was shifted to the left. Both players have played in the No 11 jersey before, so the position won’t be foreign to them.
However, Williams, who revolutionised wing play in the 1990s with his work rate and ability to stop attackers dead in their tracks on defence, has backed Kolbe to make that switch to the No 11 because of his all-round ability.
‘I would say Kolbe should play on the left if both are considered to start. His work rate is good and Cheslin defends his channel well against bigger players,’ Williams said during the launch of his beer – Chester’s Lager and Chester’s IPA.
‘His anticipation is also really good, which will help in the way the Boks like to defend as well. He is an intelligent rugby player, who also understands the role of the left wing supporting the fullback, having also played at the back.
‘Left wing is a position that requires more intelligence. I’m not saying the right wing is the other way around, but it’s easier to defend on the right wing and it’s easier to step off the right foot. You don’t want Nkosi to lose that ability to step inside off his right foot,’ the former Springbok No 11 added.
Williams, whose Chester’s IPA beer will be the only South African beer sold in Japan during the World Cup, is confident that both Kolbe and Nkosi will also be able to handle the high ball – on attack and defence.
‘In a World Cup it’s going to be crucial to field your high kicks, because every team is likely to kick a lot more,’ Williams said.
‘There’s not a lot of space to play anymore and the only way to get it is to kick a good contestable kick and try to get the ball back and have a go at the disorganised defence of the opposition.
‘Kolbe and Nkosi are both great chasers and compete well in the air. Nkosi has also really improved under the high ball when it’s kicked towards him.’