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What Racing 92 boss Stuart Lancaster has asked of Siya Kolisi ahead of debut

By Josh Raisey
Siya Kolisi poses with his jersey after his official presentation at the headquarters of the French top14 rugby union club, in Le Plessis-Robinson, outside Paris, on November 9, 2023. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi is set to make his Racing 92 debut this Sunday against reigning Investec Champions Cup winners La Rochelle in the Top 14, after his head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed his availability.

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Despite arriving in Paris over a week ago to link up with his new team, the flanker has not seen any action yet as he acclimatises to his new surroundings and recovers from the Springboks’ victorious World Cup campaign.

After training all week with the Parisian outfit, Lancaster confirmed on Friday that Kolisi is available to take the field at La Defense Arena, suggesting he will play his first match since defeating the All Blacks at the Stade de France. The former England boss has given the Springbok some simple instructions ahead of his debut, telling him to focus on the basics as he grows accustomed to a new system in both attack and defence.

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“He has trained all week and he is available for selection,” Lancaster said at Racing’s press conference.

“I am simply going to ask him to initially concentrate on the basics.

“It is a new system for him both in defence and attack which he has still to acclimatise to.

“It is a very important match for him, he was very focused this week and is eager to play.”

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Kolisi was present at the Stade Jean Bouin last week as Racing beat Stade Francais in the Parisian derby, leaving them level on points with their rivals at the top of the league (in second due to points difference). Though last season’s Top 14 runners-up La Rochelle are languishing in eighth, they have now won two matches on the bounce as their internationals have returned to action to bolster their squad significantly.

Lancaster will be all too aware of the threat Ronan O’Gara’s side pose, and will want to field his best team possible to get the victory, which would surely include the South Africa skipper.

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