Why Springbok winger Cheslin Kolbe has a touch of World Cup winner Jason Robinson about him
'Dynamic' South African crowd-pleaser will be a player to watch in Sunday's semi-final, says Wales coach Shaun Edwards
Springbok winger Cheslin Kolbe has all the attributes of England's World Cup winner Jason Robinson, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards said ahead of his side's semi-final clash with South Africa on Sunday.
Kolbe has underlined his credentials as one of the hottest properties in rugby union with a series of blistering performances that have lit up the competition in Japan, wowing fans to become one of the most recognisable faces of the World Cup.
His lightning footwork and an ability to use his power-packed if diminutive stature to ricochet his way out of contact situations remind the watcher of a certain Robinson, who shone in the 13-man code before switching to become a star for England and the British and Irish Lions in union.
Like Kolbe, 2003 World Cup winner Robinson stands 1.72m tall and weighed in at a relatively paltry 80kg, had pace to burn and a devastating step that saw many a defender beaten.
"I was lucky enough to play with Jason Robinson, I was his captain at Wigan when he first came in the Wigan team," said Edwards, capped 36 times by Britain and rugby league's most decorated player with 37 winner's medals.
"Kolbe's a similar player to Jason: incredibly explosive, short. You look at the England backline, they're not huge, they're not massive but they're incredibly skilful.
"Same with New Zealand, they've got some smaller players now. It's a game for all shapes and sizes and let's hope that continues.
"If you want to go and watch a game of rugby, you want to go and watch Cheslin Kolbe. We have to keep our eye on him, he's one of the most dynamic players I've ever seen."
But it wasn't just Kolbe about whom Edwards was worried, with Makazole Mapimpi showing equal ability on the left wing for South Africa, as well as free-running Willie le Roux, always a dangerman at full-back.
"They've got blow torch speed on the edges," he said. "If there were a 4x100m relay race of all the teams involved in the World Cup they'd be fastest. They've got some incredible pace out wide."
Springboks forwards coach Matt Proudfoot insisted it is their mighty pack that Wales should be wary of.
It was Proudfoot's forwards were key to the South Africa ending Japan's magical run last Sunday with a powerful performance and he has faith in his men to once again deliver.
"Every challenge you face as a pack of forwards ... whatever their way of challenging you, there's always a question you've got to solve," he said. "You've always got to find a way, find the challenge, identify what you're going to do about it, and then execute it.
"We've got specific things we want to achieve as a pack, and that gives me confidence that whatever the opposition is going to do or change or bring to us, that these guys are equipped to handle that challenge, and I've been very happy with the way they have done it. They're growing every day."
Updated: October 23, 2019 04:27 AM