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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Siya Kolisi might be Springbok captain but Sharks loose forwards ‘keep him in check’

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Durban – When Siya Kolisi joined the battle against Glasgow Warriors from the bench last week he did so with noticeable venom, and the Springbok captain is not shy to admit that he felt compelled to excel because of the form of the Sharks’ loose forwards.

While Kolisi and his fellow Boks were resting after the Rugby Championship, the Sharks played three United Rugby Championship matches overseas and flanks Dylan Richardson and James Venter, and No 8s Phepsi Buthelezi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, played their socks off.

And new recruit Vincent Tshituka was waiting in the wings, as is injured Henco Venter.

Kolisi said he took note.

“The guys really got stuck in on tour and it definitely takes away the complacency,” Kolisi said ahead of this week’s big match against Ulster, which will see him starting once more.

“All we can do is work hard and play hard every week and when you see how well guys in your position are playing, you know you have to pitch up, but the main winner is the team because there is so much rugby, so many different competitions that no one person can play all the games.”

Kolisi is in competition with Richardson, a product of Durban school Kearsney College, and the latter has started four matches this season – the first three at blindside flank before switching to the opposite side of the scrum – and he was named man of the match in a come-from-behind 20-19 victory over the Dragons in Newport.

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Coach Sean Everitt said the stocky Richardson was equally at home at openside or blindside

“Dylan’s robustness is the reason we’re playing him on the blindside because he’s physical and he puts in a lot of carries,” Everitt said of the 23-year-old.

“Dylan has always been an allround loose forward. His scavenging and his excellence on the ground add to his team selection.

“There was talk of Dylan moving to hooker, but he’s comfortable on the flank and he covers all the areas that we need him to.

“Dylan and James (Venter) get through a mountain of work and their tackle count is very high. They’re able to put pressure on the breakdown.”

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Richardson says that the added depth at loose forward has inspired him to fight for a place in the starting lineup.

“I am happy about the competition because there’s a lot I can learn,” Richardson said. “I’m just absorbing as much as I can, and being in that sort of company makes you want to raise your whole game to another level.”

Richardson, now a capped Scotland international, played a big role in lifting South Africa to a bronze-medal finish at the

2019 Under-20 Championship in Argentina, starring alongside former Junior Bok captain Buthelezi.

“I’m a local Durban boy so my heart’s always been with the Sharks,” Richardson said.

“I’ve supported them since I was a kid and it’s definitely a dream to play for them.”

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