Kolbe at No 9: Ex-Bok shares thoughts
Cape Town - Former Springbok scrumhalf Werner Swanepoel feels Cheslin Kolbe could be a success at scrumhalf but warned that he must be carefully introduced into the role.
This comes after former Springbok coach Nick Mallett indicated that Kolbe should shift from fullback to scrumhalf if he wants to have a successful international career.
Speaking in the SuperSport studio at the weekend, Mallett said: “Cheslin Kolbe is incredibly brave, he has very good feet and a good kicking and passing game. I’m not sure he can compete internationally at fullback, being as slight as he is. A year or two ago against the Sharks, he beat them twice from the base of the scrum and created chaos when he stepped two forwards. I think Cheslin just needs experience playing at scrumhalf and he could be the best No 9 in South Africa.”
Swanepoel, who played 20 Tests at scrumhalf for the Springboks between 1997 and 2000, told Netwerk24 he doesn’t doubt Kolbe’s ability to feature in the No 9 jersey.
“Cheslin is an unbelievably talented player. But there needs to be clarity. South African rugby shouldn’t make the same mistake as done with Francois Hougaard. He moved far too much between wing and scrumhalf and it had a negative impact on his development,” said Swanepoel.
Swanepoel warned though that the decision to move Kolbe to scrumhalf should not be a hasty one.
“We shouldn’t forget that Kolbe could possibly be in (Bok coach) Allister Coetzee’s squad for the series against Ireland. His international career is currently not dependant on a move to scrumhalf.
“It is nevertheless an important discussion point. South African rugby needs to determine which position will offer Cheslin the best opportunity to play international rugby on a regular basis. Maybe that would be at scrumhalf.”
Swanepoel highlighted Kolbe’s attacking prowess as a vital asset.
“His ability to use a small area to put a defender under pressure is worth gold. But he needs to start on a clean slate. Let him start playing scrumhalf from next year. It won’t help unsettle him in the middle of a campaign.”
At fullback, the 1.7m Kolbe’s defence has come under scrutiny. He has misses 12 of 33 tackle attempts in Super Rugby this year, but Swanepoel feels Kolbe is an “underrated defender”.
“He’s struggling a bit this year because defenders are putting him under pressure, but at scrumhalf that weakness may a little bit less exposed.”