Springboks star Cheslin Kolbe has labelled next year’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa as an “incredible” event that he wants to be part of.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the Toulouse speedster told reporters of his memories from the Lions’ last visit to the Republic in 2009, during which the hosts secured a 2-1 test series win over the Springboks.
“I watched in 2009 and ever since I told myself I definitely want to be a part of that,” Kolbe said.
“Seeing the atmosphere, the way the stadiums were packed, the amount of time [that] is invested when the British and Irish Lions do come over, it’s incredible. It’s a team I want to be a part of and play in those three tests.”
The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year nominee pinpointed the moment that Morne Steyn kicked the Springboks to a series-clinching victory at Loftus Versfeld during the second test as a particular highlight of the tour 11 years ago.
“Morne Steyn, playing at Loftus, so he knew the stadium, getting that penalty from past the halfway line,” he said.
“The moment with all the green jerseys standing up and they went crazy for the winning points. That was one of the highlights.
“Playing against the Lions, because they are made out of different countries makes it so much more special and playing against the best — that’s who you want to perform against and how you want to see where you are as a player.”
The 26-year-old’s comments come months after he confirmed his intention to face the Lions rather than pursue a gold medal with South Africa’s national sevens side at the Tokyo Olympics, which will be held concurrently with the tour.
Kolbe, who enjoyed a breakout international campaign with the Springboks en route to their World Cup success last year, won a bronze medal with the Blitzboks at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but isn’t looking to add to his collection next year.
“It was a difficult one with the Lions being at the same time. Being a part of the Olympics in 2016 and experiencing that was incredible,” he said.
“Playing against athletes from all over the world and meeting athletes in the Olympic village are the things you want to be a part of,” he added.
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