From rugby guru to journalist: Rassie asks Kolisi question at award press conference

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Siya Kolisi with his SA Rugby Player of the Year accolade. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
Siya Kolisi with his SA Rugby Player of the Year accolade. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi had a surprise visitor to his online press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Kolisi was addressing reporters after scooping the SA Rugby Player of the Year accolade.

He fended off the challenges of Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth and Makazole Mapimpi for the prestigious accolade.

During the virtual press conference, SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus - who recently completed his first 60-day ban from World Rugby - made a cameo appearance to ask a question.

"Siya, congrats," Erasmus said, before asking: "What would you say to young or old players when negative stuff is said about them or when they are written off and told they shouldn't be in the team?"

Kolisi responded: "Coach, I think if you can manage to take comments on board, both the good and bad, that’s fine. But the harshest critic has to be yourself at the end of the day. You need to look at yourself because you know the processes and preparation required to perform at your best, and you have to ask yourself: 'Have I worked hard enough?'

"That is the most important thing before reading any comments. Sometimes things don't always work out exactly as you'd like, but in the Bok camp, the way we worked never changed no matter who we played against or what happened. So yes you have to be your own biggest critic before anyone else, and sometimes you have to take criticism on the chin, see what you’ve done to prepare and perhaps what you could have done better."

The Bok skipper continued: "Focus on yourself, believe in yourself and realise that sometimes your form will waver. I experienced that before the 2019 World Cup, but you just told me to keep working hard, to get myself fit, and that the form would then return. That helped a lot. Sometimes you just have to go back and play club rugby or for your franchise to find a way back to playing your best."

Kolisi, who was named the Springbok of the Lions Series and was the only Bok to play in all 13 Tests in 2021, led South Africa to a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions in August.

He went on to captain the side under difficult circumstances in the Rugby Championship, which culminated with a nail-biting win over the All Blacks.

The Boks also finished the year as the No 1-ranked side in the world.

2021 SA Rugby awards:

Referee of the Year: Aimee Barrett-Theron  

Provincial Women's Player of the Year: Lusanda Dumke  

Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year: Dylan Maart  

Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year: Elrigh Louw  

Test Try of the Year: Cheslin Kolbe  

Coach of the Year: Jake White  

Team of the Year: Springboks  

Junior Springbok Player of the Year: Henco van Wyk  

Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Ronald Brown  

Springbok Women's Player of the Year: Lusanda Dumke  

SA Rugby Young Player of the Year: Aphelele Fassi  

SA Rugby Player of the Year: Siya Kolisi

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