Nick Mallett: Wrap Siya Kolisi in cotton wool like Richie McCaw

Siya Kolisi prior to the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Japan and South Africa at the Tokyo Stadium on 20 October 2019 (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Siya Kolisi prior to the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Japan and South Africa at the Tokyo Stadium on 20 October 2019 (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Hannah Peters
  • Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett believes Siya Kolisi can easily still captain the national side at the 2023 World Cup if they manage him like the All Blacks did Richie McCaw.
  • McCaw managed to win the 2015 World Cup for a second time at age 35 because he was wrapped in cotton wool for less serious assignments.
  • Mallett says Kolisi is an ideal figure to put at the forefront of the Boks' effort not to tail off again after last year's triumph in Japan.

Siya Kolisi could easily spearhead the Springboks' title defence in 2023's Rugby World Cup in France, but former national coach Nick Mallett believes that objective would be achieved far easier if South Africa follows New Zealand's example with Richie McCaw.

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The legendary All Blacks skipper led his side to two consecutive campaign victories in 2011 and 2015.

However, McCaw was almost 35 when he lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in England five years ago and managed that feat through his own excellent conditioning and New Zealand Rugby's cautious management plan.

Kolisi will be three years younger in 2023, but his spotty injury record will raise a few eyebrows.

"I still believe Siya has got another four years in him, easy," Mallett told the latest edition of PSG's Think Big Series

"Importantly, he needs to be protected from playing every single game. His career from now on needs different management. In the build-up to the 2015 World Cup, New Zealand gave Richie and Dan Carter six months off. No rugby, just an extended period to get their bodies right."

The All Blacks clearly benefited from that approach.

New Zealand's centralised contracting system grants the national team full discretionary power when it comes to the management of players, which is in contrast to South Africa's new de-centralised model, implemented in 2018.

Yet that system has been fine-tuned to prioritise the alignment of the franchises and the Springboks' interests, something that gives Mallett hope that Kolisi's future management can be effective.

"If you have a system where you have a national director of rugby like Rassie Erasmus, it's beneficial," he said.

"He liaises with the franchise coaches and has a great relationship with national coach, Jacques Nienaber. We're on a very good path."

Vitally, Kolisi would probably also buy into a more measured management approach because of his own desire to be at the forefront of the Springboks' continuity from the triumph in Japan.

"Siya, Rassie and Jacques' words after the World Cup were: Let's not drop off like every other South African team has done in the past," said Mallett.

"We always have a fall-off where we drop down to fifth or sixth again, where there's a problem with the coaching or government or players. And then a new hero emerges and we manage to climb again.

"I think what Siya and co want to do is try and maintain consistency and we can do that because we produce brilliant rugby players. We're also broadening the player base. There's no reason why we won't see more Siyas, Beast Mtawariras and Makazole Mapimpis emerging."

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk 

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