In light of his two-try display against Italy on Friday, calls are mounting for Cheslin Kolbe to be named World Rugby player of the year.
The winger was named the player of the match, as he played behind a pack that brutalised provided him a lot of time and space on the ball. His former Stormers teammate Juan de Jongh predicted on Twitter after the match that he will win the coveted gong at the end of the year.
A number of current and former players have agreed with de Jongh, including former recipient of the award, Bryan Habana, who said it “seems very likely”.
Usually, for a player to win the award in a Rugby World Cup year, their team needs to win the competition, or at least get to the final, which is looking increasingly likely with the Springboks.
The only downside is that Kolbe limped off in the final minutes of the match against Italy after falling awkwardly on his ankle. It would be a travesty for Rassie Erasmus’ side and for all spectators if the diminutive winger’s injury is serious.
Although the Toulouse winger has the best footwork in rugby at the moment and pace to match, it is the other aspects of his game that may impress some, such as his defence. Despite being 80kg/ 12st,8lb, the 25-year-old rarely misses a tackle, and is hugely effective in South Africa’s pressing defence.
In a sport where players seem to be getting larger, Kolbe is a breath of fresh air, and is rightly regarded as one of the world’s best, if not the best player.
Cheslin Kolbe ? #RWC2019
— ugo monye (@ugomonye) October 4, 2019
After making the Champions Cup semi-final and winning the Top 14 with Toulouse during the first half of the year, Kolbe’s success continued as he was part of South Africa’s victorious Rugby Championship campaign.
He proved how dangerous he can be against the All Blacks in July, as South Africa came away with a draw in Wellington. Steve Hansen’s side found it almost impossible to contain Kolbe, particularly Reiko Ioane, another one of the world’s premier wingers.
Other players have stood out this year, none more so that Wales’ Grand Slam winning captain Alun-Wyn Jones, but Should the Springboks make the RWC final or even win the competition, it would be hard to make a case for any other player to win the award.
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