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'Hurts to watch': Frustrations grow over Toulon's Springbok star Kolbe

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The use of Toulon’s megastar wing Cheslin Kolbe has come under question as fans grow frustrated with the Springboks star and the hefty price tag he brings.

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Toulon made waves in 2021 when it paid a blockbuster transfer fee to buyout his Toulouse contract and sign a new one at a reported €1M per season.

However since making the move to the glamour club injuries have marred his time at the famous Toulon club with extended time on the sidelines in between internationals with South Africa.

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The Stade Mayol faithful waited until round 17 last season to see their new star play at home in a league fixture, with his official debut coming earlier against Zebre in a Challenge Cup match.

Kolbe made 10 appearances for Toulon in the Top 14 scoring three tries in his first season, while he scored one more in three Challenge Cup fixtures.

In the 2022/23 season, Kolbe has featured six times in the first 15 weeks of competition but featured heavily for South Africa in the November internationals.

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In addition to the lengthy time on the sidelines, fans have grown frustrated with the lack of game planning to use Kolbe, complaining he ‘never receives the ball’ outside of returning kicks.

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Toulon fans are famously harsh critics who have turned on stars who don’t perform to expectations. Former All Black Julian Savea is a notable recent example, who drew the ire of former owner Mourad Boudjellal.

Some fans are now putting the Kolbe contract up there as one of the club’s worst bits of business, with one fan calling it ‘the most spectactular robbery that Toulon has known’.

This Twitter user wrote: “Kolbe who takes nearly a million euros is clearly the most spectacular robbery that Toulon has known and there have been some beautiful.”

Another lamented the ‘ghost’ of Kolbe: “The RCT has been boring us for years as a bonus, in particular with the Kolbe ghost that Canal still imagines at the level of 2019… I think Bayonne Pau deserves more respect than Toulon”

Kolbe recently re-commmited his future to the club after speculation that he would leave France to either return home or go to Japan.

“I am happy to be able to clarify: I only have my mind in Toulon. I am here and this at least until 2024,” he said.

His former Stormers club reportedly offered a five-year contract to return to South Africa, while he was also pursued by Japan Rugby League One team where fellow Springboks Willie le Roux, Damian de Allende, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Malcolm Marx, Faf de Klerk and Jesse Kriel ply their trade.

Toulon once again have learnt the risk in paying top dollar for wingers who rely on those around them to create space and opportunity, even for a player as gifted as Kolbe.

The Springboks World Cup hero has not been able to replicate the club form he had with Toulouse, with French halves pair Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

He scored 9 tries in his final season with Toulouse and captured the double, the European Cup and Top 14 League title, his second with the club.

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Comments

3 Comments
G
Graham 528 days ago

Good, these teams are well aware of a players international commitments and how regular injuries occur especially with a packed season and huge workload. Dont buy big names and expect them to pull the game out their arse every weekend, invest in your structures and develop instead of pulling in a barbarians team from all over and expect to win just because the checks you write are bigger than the other teams. And those fans should be ashamed to dump all that hate on the players and not the management

R
Roydon 529 days ago

If you are unhappy don't buy these players or coaches as simple as that.

J
Jérémie 529 days ago

You don't go to Toulon to get the ball -and he knew it- but to get money.

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Flankly 8 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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