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Cheslin Kolbe's startling revelation about the origin of his mesmerising sidestep

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Fred Scheiber/AFP via Getty Images)

Toulouse winger Cheslin Kolbe has revealed how he first started to perfect his world-famous sidestep as a kid at home in South Africa – running to the shower or to get something from the fridge.


A star of the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup triumph, a glory that saw him leave England’s Owen Farrell for dead on his way to the try-line in Yokohama, European rugby fans were reminded of Kolbe’s fast-stepping talents when he helped Toulouse defeat Ulster last weekend.

Jacob Stockdale, the scorer of Ireland’s crucial try in their breakthrough 2018 win over the All Blacks in Dublin, was left looking foolish as Kolbe sidestepped him on route to the quarter-final try-line in France.

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Schalk Brits on South Africa’s 2019 World Cup glory
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Schalk Brits on South Africa’s 2019 World Cup glory

Ahead of this Saturday’s semi-final at Exeter, Kolbe has now told an EPCR media conference that this particular skill originated at the family home.

“When I was a kid growing up at home, whenever I went to take a shower or to get something from the fridge in the kitchen I always used to run and make sure I sidestepped something,” explained the 26-year-old.

“I also developed it playing touch rugby in the streets with my friends, trying all kinds of things to give the person trying to stop me a bit of a headache. I can step off both feet. A lot of players are mostly dominant off one foot, but I put as much emphasis on both feet. To be honest, sometimes I don’t know what I do on the field. It’s just my body taking over. I surprise myself.”


Kolbe will likely go head-to-head at Sandy Park against Jack Nowell, a winger he knows well from a South Africa versus England encounter at the Junior World Cup seven years ago.

“Jack is a special player,” Kolbe said. “I played against him in the U20 World Cup in 2013 and he really caught my eye. The turn of speed he has, the power and the sidestepping as well. He is really a great player, a player that has a lot to provide to a team.

“We probably play the same style of rugby, and I am looking forward to the weekend and catching up with him again. We speak every now and then on social media. He has a family, I also have a family, that’s how we got started. We just try and keep up that relationship.”

Toulouse are chasing a record fifth European Cup and while they haven’t lifted the trophy since 2010, Kolbe doesn’t feel any pressure heading into this weekend’s semi-final in Devon. “The thing that drives me is my family, my daughter and the amazing support that I have behind me – and the people back home in South Africa and the community I grew up in.


“I play this game to hopefully inspire those people in my (South African) community to not fall into the trap of gangsters and drugs. Each and every morning I wake up I think about why I do this and why I want to keep succeeding in life and wanting the best for me as a player.”


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