Cape Town - There’s a lot of fuss being made in the Cape about where Cheslin Kolbe should be deployed in the Stormers team following Nick Mallett’s comments from the SuperSport studio that he should perhaps play scrumhalf because of his size, and there has also been some hysterical overreaction to the attention paid to Kolbe by Sharks centre Frans Steyn in the coastal derby last weekend.
However, when it comes to the player himself, and the management who decide where he plays, it is a case of all calm on the western front, reports the supersport.com website.
Kolbe knows he is playing a physical sport where the gladiatorial attitude prevails, and that opposition targeting you just comes with the territory in rugby and can actually be seen as a compliment.
As for the coaches, they don’t agree with critics who, because they believe Kolbe is not featuring as much on the counter-attack as he did during last year's Currie Cup, feel that he is not himself at present.
While Newlands patrons groan every time Kolbe puts boot to ball after receiving a kick because the action is seen to rob them of the spectacle of the diminutive No 15 doing what he does best, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says it all comes down to Kolbe having an innate understanding of when it was on to counter-attack, and when it wasn’t.
"You can only counter off a poor kick, and he hasn’t been receiving too many of those recently.
"If you run off a good kick then you’re asking for trouble, and Cheslin knows that, because his ability to sum up a situation and know when it is on or not is one of his big strengths as a player," said Coetzee.
The Stormers coach shrugged off the fuss that was being made after the Sharks game over Steyn’s attempts to pressurize Kolbe.
"I think Cheslin knows that there are times that opposition will focus on him, but while he may be small, he is a really tough guy and he knows how to handle himself.
"There’s a reason why opposition single him out, it’s because he’s a dangerous player and he is the type of guy who could make an idiot of you in a telephone booth."
Kolbe told the Cape media via a telephone hook-up that there was no need for anyone to worry about his health – he was able to handle himself and the impact of the bruising derby against the Sharks has been shaken off to the extent that he is in the selection mix for Saturday’s clash with the Chiefs.
And there is no doubt in his mind that he wants to be considered only as a fullback.
"There will always be a few words and speculation, but at this stage I don’t want to think about extra stuff, and just want to focus on my role as a fullback," said Kolbe.
Stormers backline coach Robbie Fleck isn’t thinking of Kolbe as anything but a fullback, and says that the last line of defence is his best position as it offers him the space he needs to move in.
"He is a guy who must operate in space.
"I think the chat about him playing at No 9 is because he had two line breaks close to the fringes against the Sharks," said Fleck.
"For me is a quality player, and I believe 15 is his best position, and where we are going to concentrate on him playing.
"There are examples of fullbacks who have not been that big who have made it, and Willie le Roux is one of those.
"Is he the biggest fullback? By no means, but he has skill, ability and vision. And that makes him a quality international fullback.
"He’s a couple of kilos heavier and a couple of inches taller than Cheslin, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the game at international level has a place for a small guy like Cheslin.
"Willie has proven that and Cheslin will prove that too if given the opportunity.
"Ben Smith isn’t the biggest guy in international rugby either, and neither was Christian Cullen."