Cheslin Kolbe stands just 1.71m (5ft 7in) tall and weighs under 80kg, but has been one of the star performers in the Top 14 and
European Champions Cup this season.
What the seven-time capped Springbok utility back lacks in physical
stature is more than made up by his attacking flair and speed, which
have transformed him into something of a cult hero in southwestern
Kolbe, cousin of world and Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk,
displayed all his talent when scoring a memorable try in Toulouse's
humdinger of a victory over Clermont last weekend.
Receiving the ball on the left wing in an innocuous position, Kolbe
slipped as he stepped back in. Rebounding to his feet, poise regained,
he exploded through the defence, beating five defenders as he raced away
to touch down.
"Cheslin is unbelievable," Toulouse's Scottish lock Richie Gray said.
"He can make something out of nothing - it's silly stuff and you can't believe it's possible.
"You can't touch him in training; you just try to tackle his shadow and that is the best you can do!"
Kolbe will line up for Toulouse against Leinster in Sunday's European
Champions Cup semi-final, leading the competition in defenders beaten
"Leinster beware this guy is a joke!" Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll tweeted along with a flaming emoji.
"Got to defend him as a collective. He gets you one on one you're in trouble."
Leinster centre Garry
Ringrose said the Irish side were well aware of what the French team had
to offer, having faced them twice in the pool phase, losing 28-27 in
France in October, but winning 29-13 in Dublin in January.
"We saw in the pool phase that Toulouse are a very difficult team to beat," Ringrose said.
"They have a lot of experience in this competition and are dangerous
in all positions. All the team are playing well, but we have to keep an
eye out for Kolbe, who has scored some incredible tries this season."
Kolbe, born in the tough Cape Town suburb of Kraaifontein, insisted
size was never an issue for him even though he was overlooked by the
Springboks after five seasons with the Stormers.
"Everyone is quite obsessed with size back home, everyone wants to be bigger than the next person," Kolbe told Rugby Pass.com.
"I don't believe that's the way forward. Why do you have to be 90kg,
100kg to make it? I believe this game has a place for each and every
player if they have the right attitude and mindset."
Kolbe, who won Olympic rugby sevens bronze with South Africa in Rio
in 2016, added: "I had a lot of arguments about being too small for
professional rugby. People told me I would never make it, and to me,
that was just an opportunity, it just excited me to prove people wrong."
Turning to Sunday's mouth-watering match, Kolbe acknowledged that the Irish province are "a well-coached, very structured team".
"Whether I'm around the ruck, or in broken field, the coaches want me
to get as much ball in my hands as I can, go and look for work and make
something from nothing. It's great to know you have that freedom to
play because sometimes you can be put into a box where you are told,
'Just do this, just do that'."
His run of form will surely see him feature in Springbok coach Rassie
Erasmus' planning for this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, Kolbe
having made his debut last year.
"We are blessed with lots of quality outside backs in South Africa
and I see that as a positive for all of us, because that keeps us all on
our toes and can just improve each and everyone's game," Kolbe told
"Definitely giving everything I have to be part of the 2019 RWC in Japan and will just play the best rugby I can."