Fleck: Kolbe can be a Test fullback
Cape Town - Cheslin Kolbe is good enough to be an international fullback and should not be moved to scrumhalf, Stormers backline coach Robbie Fleck says.
Fleck was responding after former Springbok coach Nick Mallett had suggested that Kolbe should be tried at scrumhalf.
Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio after the Stormers' 29-13 Super Rugby victory over the Sharks at Newlands last Saturday night.
Kolbe played another stellar game for the Stormers at fullback, but he was man-handled at times, particularly by Sharks centre Frans Steyn.
WATCH: Kolbe takes a battering from the Sharks
At 1.71m Kolbe is a small player and Mallett fears he's won't be picked at fullback at international level because of his size.
"I keep asking myself, is he being played in the right position? Will he become an international fullback? In the present South African system, they’ll never pick him because he’s too small," said Mallett.
"He’s the same height and weight as Aaron Smith. Smith is playing for the All Blacks and is one of the best scrumhalves in the world. Kolbe played No 9 at sevens - he’s got brilliant ability around the fringes.
"Forwards are slow, they’re not as agile as backline players, so his ability to step forwards around the fringes is far greater than in the wide open spaces where he’s up against other backline players."
However, Fleck feels Kolbe would make the grade at fullback at the top level of the game.
"The talks that Cheslin should play scrumhalf probably started because he twice broke through close to the rucks in last Saturday's game. But he does the same from the back," Fleck told Netwerk24.
Fleck said Kolbe is in the same class as current Springbok fullback incumbent Willie le Roux.
"Willie isn't much bigger than Cheslin, but he's skilful, talented and has exceptional vision. That's why he's a top Test fullback.
"I have no doubt that there's a place for small guys like Cheslin at Test level. Willie has proved it and Cheslin would do the same if he gets the opportunity. Cheslin has the same qualities as Willie and could cause the same amount of damage."
Fleck also singled out All Black wing Ben Smith and former fullback Christian Cullen as smaller players who have made a major impact at Test level.