CAPE TOWN – Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi returned to action this month as the game in South Africa resumed at the elite level.
Super Rugby returned to Loftus Versfeld on Friday, October 9, with Kolisi’s DHL Stormers playing their first game back against Emirates Lions in the tournament called #SuperFanSaturday on Saturday, October 17. In the second match of the tournament in Pretoria the hosts Bulls took on the Sharks in the opening encounter on the day.
Ahead of his playing return at flanker, Kolisi spoke about getting injured in his first game back after the World Cup, being back playing and the vital work of his foundation in securing PPE for healthcare workers.
How was lockdown life for you?
My experience during lockdown has been interesting. I’ve had a lot of good time with family and obviously spent more time with my kids and my siblings. I was also able to travel around South Africa with the foundation and see how the majority of people are living in South Africa. That has been really tough to see.
On the rugby side of things, were you able to stay in shape?
I was keeping fit during lockdown. I had a gym at home – Red Bull sorted me out – so it was quite amazing to have my own personal gym at home but it was still challenging because I couldn’t run but luckily I had a bike and it was a great set-up at home. I could train with my family – we did some videos with the kids too. So, I thought that was pretty amazing.
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Have you learned anything about your fitness in lockdown?
What I have learnt about my fitness during this time is that it’s got to be a lifestyle thing, it’s got to be something that you keep on doing each and every single day, something that you love and you get people around you as well to be a part of it. Training with my wife and my kids, you know and my siblings is pretty cool.
How much of an eye opener has the foundation been for what wider South Africans are facing?
The foundation that we launched – myself and Rachel – it actually has opened our eyes a little bit more. I kind of thought I had an idea of what the struggle looked like on the outside but travelling around South Africa actually exposes you to so much more where people don’t have things like water and that was very tough to see.
We did our best to try to help where we could especially with the PPE, with the public hospitals and public clinics we knew it was going to be a problem and the foundation is basically my heart and Rachel’s heart being put into one. She’s been doing work by herself before, I was doing work by myself and we just kind of brought it together and now we want to fight different issues around South Africa.
What are some of those issues?
As the country comes back to normal, we’re going to be fighting the social issues that we personally have experiences towards. For me, I think about equality and something that Rachel and I both feel strongly about is gender-based violence. We’re going to make sure we put emphasis on that and put our energy and soul into that because I think it’s been a pandemic that’s been happening for so many years that hasn’t really been taken seriously yet and we want to make sure that we use our platform, our voices and the people around us to make sure we make an impact and something can be done. It’s not only talking about it but actually finding a solution.
How much have you missed being part of the team in rugby?
What I miss most about the team environment, I think it’s just the banter and the talk around the corridors and changing room and yeah just going through a hard time with your teammates, that’s what I always enjoy the most, when you’re struggling but you’ve got your mate next to you to pull you up. I think that’s what I’ve missed the most.
It’s been a gradual process to getting back hasn’t it?
We’ve been working hard as a team during lockdown. Obviously, we were working individually and then we had to start coming back in small groups, no contact that was also tough seeing your teammates but not being able to interact with them. And then we finally got given the go ahead to do contact so we started with that and we’ve been working really hard.
It’s been a while since you last played hasn’t it?
So, I got injured in the first game of Super Rugby. The last game I played was in the World Cup Final in Japan and then coming back you’re so excited you know, everybody is so excited to see the Springboks play again and then I got my injury.
But I also saw it as an opportunity to spend more time at home and I’ve been working on rehab and obviously that got cut short because of lockdown and the pandemic and everything but I’ve been doing some work at home and doing rehab with the physio here at the Stormers and so now I’m in a much better place than I was a couple of months ago.
I take it everyone at the Stormers is itching to get back out on the field.
The team has been just working on individual things basically, just wherever you can improve so, when you come back, you must be a bit better and I think we’ve seen a lot of improvements especially the way the guys look. Some guys are in the best shape they’ve ever been in since lockdown.
So that’s quite exciting and really good to see but then you know the guys really want to get back on the field, the team means so much to them so I’m looking forward to just getting on the field and we see all the small stuff that we worked on show when we get back on the field.