Star Bok set for final aerial battle with England

Prior to the semi-finals, Kolbe had underlined his credentials as one of the stars of the World Cup with a series of blistering performances that lit up the competition in Japan

by AFP/ pic by AFP

TOKYO • As one of the hottest properties in rugby union, South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe (picture) has made his mark as a free-roaming winger with lightning footwork and a sprinter’s acceleration.

Back in the Springbok team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against England after missing the 19-16 semi-final win over Wales with an ankle injury, Kolbe said he was instead primed for an aerial battle in Yokohama.

Teammate Faf de Klerk dominated proceedings against Wales, as the two sides kicked the ball an incredible 81 times over the 80 minutes, deploying a kicking game backed by a pressing, aggressive defence that tries to force opposition errors.

“I obviously do enjoy running with ball in hand, but the game has really differed in the last couple of months in terms of being more aerial, battle-wise,” said Kolbe.

“I think there’s going to be a bit of a contest in the air and chasing and I think that the team that’s going to be up for that is the team that’s going to pull it through.”

While De Klerk and Handre Pollard pull the half-back strings for South Africa, with full-back Willie Le Roux also offering a kicking option, England’s Owen Farrell, George Ford and Elliot Daly all have an equally impressive kicking game.

Prior to the semi-finals, Kolbe had underlined his credentials as one of the stars of the World Cup with a series of blistering performances that lit up the competition in Japan, wowing fans to become one of the most recognisable faces of the tournament.

In a game increasingly made up of giants, Kolbe, standing a diminutive 1.72m (5ft 8in) tall and weighing in at a relatively paltry 80kg (12st 8lb), relies on his speedy footwork and an ability to use his power-packed stature to ricochet his way out of contact situations.