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Kolisi so proud to be South Africa's first black skipper

 

By Duncan Bech

Siya Kolisi insists his landmark moment in South African sporting history will only sink in when he runs out at Ellis Park today.

Kolisi will become the first black player to captain the Springboks' Test team in their 126-year history when England visit Johannesburg, completing a remarkable rise to the pinnacle of the sport on these shores.

The 26-year-old flanker was raised in poverty in Port Elizabeth's Zwide township where his sole focus was "to get a meal at the end of the day", but now he carries the expectations of a nation on his shoulders.

"I think tomorrow (Saturday) will be the first time that everything comes together for me and I'll realise how big this moment is," Kolisi said.

"Ellis Park has a really special feel. When you hear the national anthem being sung and you scan the crowd, you see the whole of South Africa in front of you...all different races and colours.

"It's really beautiful and one of the most beautiful things I've seen. The crowd always gets behind us and for some reason we always bring our best when we turn up here.

"And it won't be any different tomorrow because this is one of the awesome Test matches - we don't play England as often as we do Australia and New Zealand.

"It's a special one and that's why it's such a big occasion."

The build-up to Kolisi's 29th cap has been spent trying not to become overawed by the wider meaning of his appointment by coach Rassie Erasmus, but he is ready to usher in a "new chapter" in Springbok rugby.

"I'm a very calm guy and the most important thing is that I play well. If I put outside pressure on myself it will get too much for me," he said.

"We've worked really hard to be here and our dream is to play for South Africa and to play against England.

"We don't know when we'll get this opportunity again... maybe next week someone else will play, so tomorrow this is the beginning of a new chapter."

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