Five matches into his Springbok captaincy, and flanker Siya Kolisi is enjoying the ride.
But Kolisi is not naive and he is well aware that the Boks’ results will greatly influence how his leadership and the performance of the team are judged.
Since coach Rassie Erasmus named him as the first black African to lead the senior national team in May, Kolisi has overseen three wins (two against England and one against Argentina) and two losses (one against England and one against Argentina).
He will lead the team out at the Suncorp Stadium for the sixth time against Australia in the Rugby Championship in Brisbane on Saturday with the Boks looking to improve their away record as they have won only three of their last 14 Tests outside of South Africa.
“So far, I am enjoying the experience, I am learning more about my teammates and I am growing as a leader as well,” Kolisi said on Friday as the Boks put the finishing touches to their preparations.
“Every week I learn something new from my teammates, the coaching staff and about myself.
‘‘I am fortunate enough to have other leaders in the team who sometimes take the pressure off me.
‘‘There are guys like Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley who have led the Springboks before.
‘‘We also have guys like Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw and Handre Pollard who are part of the leadership group and that is a good thing.
‘‘Their presence makes it easier for me, which helps a lot because we are all fully aware that we must win rugby matches for our country.”
Kolisi pointed out that his first match as captain – the Boks beat England 42-39 at Ellis Park – was extremely difficult because of the intense scrutiny on him after he was confirmed as leader ahead of the match.
“My first game against England was tough for me but each week has presented its own challenges,” he said.
‘‘Like I said, I have people around who are always ready to offer advice and I am managing the situation.
‘‘The loss to Argentina was the most disappointing for me, but there have not been too many difficult things as yet.”
Before he was named Bok captain by Erasmus, who has known him since his junior days, Kolisi captained the Stormers in Super Rugby.
But he said had never seen himself as a leader.
“To be honest, I never saw myself as a leader,” he said.
‘‘But people have always believed in my leadership style. I try to be natural and not to be someone else in the execution of my duties.”
After Saturday’s Australia encounter, Kolisi’s leadership will be put to test when the Boks travel to New Zealand to take on the all-conquering All Blacks in Wellington next weekend.
But he insists he is looking forward to that challenge.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Scott Sio. 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddock.
15 Willie le Roux‚ 14 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Damian de Allende 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi‚ 10 Elton Jantjies‚ 9 Faf de Klerk‚ 8 Warren Whiteley‚ 7 Pieter Steph du Toit‚ 6 Siya Kolisi‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Frans Malherbe‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 Steven Kitshoff. 16 Malcolm Marx‚ 17 Tendai Mtawarira‚ 18 Wilco Louw‚ 19 RG Snyman‚ 20 Francois Louw‚ 21 Embrose Papier‚ 22 Handré Pollard‚ 23 Cheslin Kolbe.