By Neale Harvey
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi must give serious consideration to a big money move to England, according to former Springbok centre Wynand Olivier.
Kolisi, 27, an icon of South African rugby as the nation’s first black skipper, has been linked with interest from Saracens, Wasps and Sale.
Any move would be seen as a body blow to the Rainbow Nation, but 2007 World Cup winner Olivier, now at Worcester Warriors, said: “Rugby’s an international game now and the lifespan of a Test player is potentially ten years, so you have to make the most of it.
“There’s a lot to consider because South Africa is going through tough times and a lot of people look up to the Springboks to find stability and a future. But you must also think about your family because the rand cannot compete with the pound or euro.
“Clubs in the north are throwing more money at it, but it’s not just about that, when you see what someone like Faf de Klerk has done since he came to England, he’s developed his game and become a real all-rounder whose kicking and running is excellent.
“For rugby in general, I think it’s a good thing to see guys moving around and when you’re young, as Kolisi still is, it gives you a lot of experience. Guys like myself came across late in our careers, but if I’d done it earlier it would have made a huge difference.
“You can name 15 or 20 guys in Europe right now who are playing unbelievably good rugby and that will only benefit the Springboks in future.”
Having seen South Africa lay down a marker by defeating New Zealand in Wellington and taking them to the wire again last week, Olivier believes the Springboks can follow-up June’s series win over England with another win at Twickenham next month.
He said: “Conditions will be a little bit different and they’ll be missing guys like De Klerk, Willie Le Roux and Vincent Koch, but (coach) Rassie Erasmus is pulling everyone together again and there’s a hell of a lot to be excited about for next year’s World Cup.
“Jesse Kriel’s playing as well as he has in a long time, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth are a destructive second row partnership and Malcolm Marx is just an unbelievable talent at hooker.
“England have a score to settle after losing the series in June but I’ll back South Africa to win again. All they need now is consistency.”
Meanwhile, centre Olivier has won his long battle for fitness a little under a year after ripping a hamstring tendon off its bone.
At 35, most players would have quit but Olivier said: “It’s been quite a struggle and I had a couple of big setbacks with groin and hip problems as well, but while some people might have called it a day, I’ve always felt I could still contribute to this club.
“We’ve got young centres in Ollie Lawrence and Will Butler who I’m helping to mentor and with myself and Ben Te’o coming back to challenge Francois Venter and Ryan Mills, midfield is going to be a position of real strength for us.”
The Rugby Paper is on sale all year round! It’s time to get ready for the autumn internationals. Subscribe: http://bit.ly/TRP-Sub