Warren Whiteley gives Springboks captain Siya Kolisi World Cup thumbs up
Warren Whiteley may have resigned himself to missing next month’s Rugby World Cup in Japan‚ but he gave current Springbok captain Siya Kolisi a massive stamp of approval.
Like Whiteley‚ Kolisi’s Super Rugby season was blighted by injury and he missed almost the entire Rugby Championship campaign.
Kolisi made his return in last week’s 24-18 win against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld. The week before‚ he appeared for Western Province in a Currie Cup game against the Pumas.
Whiteley also had an idea of what SA’s loose-forward trio will look like for the Yokohama game against New Zealand.
“I thought Siya was phenomenal when he came onto the park. We must remember that he’s coming back from injury and the amount of pressure that he’s under as a Springbok captain. All eyes are on him and for him to perform like he did‚ that’s brilliant‚” Whiteley said.
“I think he’s going to start for us as captain‚ probably with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen. Francois Louw has been effective off the bench and that’s probably where I’m headed in terms of a loose trio for the World Cup game against New Zealand.”
Whiteley has not only shaved his locks in a cancer awareness cause‚ he is also assisting with the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup as a coach.
Speaking at the launch of the Springbok Invictus Medallion at Monte Casino‚ Whiteley said the All Blacks will be in good shape for the World Cup despite an iffy Rugby Championship preparation period.
The All Blacks struggled against Argentina‚ were hammered by Australia‚ but returned to winning ways against the Wallabies last week.
“You may have seen that in the Rugby Championship they didn’t perform all that well and that was because they were experimenting. They were trying out new combinations and different attacking structures‚” Whiteley said.
“I would assume that’s them trying things before they go into the World Cup. They’re dangerous and the All Blacks will always be there and there-about.
“What they have that other teams don’t have are World Cup winners and they have Super Rugby winners.
"They have players who have been in high pressure situations more than once in their careers. That’s a big advantage.”
Whiteley has confidence in the Springboks despite having to face the All Blacks in their opening World Cup game‚ which he said is going to be a cracker of a match.
“We’ve got the squad to do it and the type of game we play is spot-on in terms of the World Cup. We’ve also got the right players in terms of the game plan‚” Whiteley said.
“We’ve got a phenomenal chance and the first test against the All Blacks is going to be a cracker. It’s going to be a huge game but we’ve also seen in the past that teams can bounce back.
“England in 2007 are an example‚ so within a World Cup‚ you can improve and get better. A team that’s constantly improving is dangerous‚ especially going into a World Cup.”