Siya Kolisi challenges Racing to be ‘on point’ in Top 14 play off

FILE - Springbok captain Siya Kolisi in action for Racing92. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

FILE - Springbok captain Siya Kolisi in action for Racing92. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Published Jun 14, 2024


Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said his Racing 92 side have to be "on point" in Sunday's French Top 14 play off at an equally star-studded Bordeaux-Begles.

Racing edged into the knock-out stages last weekend based on their head-to-head results with seventh-placed Castres before a potential semi-final against Parisian rivals Stade Francais.

Kolisi's outfit, which includes leading names such as France centre Gael Fickou and Fiji back Josua Tuisova, are eyeing a first French title since 2016.

"I believe when you get into play off games, the mindset is different," Kolisi told AFP on Tuesday.

"It's all about who's on point on the day.

"If we’re not on point on the day, the season is done. It's an exciting challenge," the 32-year-old flanker added.

Kolisi joined the Parisians after guiding the Springboks to a second straight, and a record fourth, Rugby World Cup in October.

This season he has struggled with minor injuries and will miss the Boks' friendly with Wales on June 22 due to his Top 14 commitments.

"It's been up and down," Kolisi said.

"What happened in the season now doesn't matter, this is what counts.

"For me it's the toughest domestic competition I've played in as every games matter with promotion and relegation, it makes everything difficult," the former Sharks and Stormers back-rower added.

'Order a baguette'

During his time in Paris, icon Kolisi has been named in Time magazine's 100 list, been to watch French Open tennis and experienced the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix while attempting to improve his French.

"It's slower than I thought. I'm understanding a bit more," Kolisi said.

"I'm not confident enough apart from ordering a baguette or a coffee," he added.

Living in one of the world's gastronomic capitals has come with risks for Kolisi, who has tried snails and duck but not yet frogs' legs.

"The food is amazing here, that's why I gained too much weight when I got here," Kolisi joked.

"I gained 5kg and then I remember getting to the gym and one of the physios said 'You look like shit'.

"It's why I had to cut down on the food," he added.

On the field this weekend, Racing's hopes of a seventh semi-final spot in the last decade have been boosted by the absence of Matthieu Jalibert even if the hosts can call up in-form back like Damian Penaud and Louis Bielle-Biarrey.

Bordeaux-Begles' France fly-half Jalibert has been ruled out until the end of the season with a thigh issue with either experienced Zack Holmes or youngster Mateo Garcia expected to deputise in the crucial playmaking role.

"He's been amazing this season," Kolisi said.

"They’ve also played without him, he was injured before and they were able to win some big games.

"They're a great team," he added.

In the other play-off, Toulon welcome former Champions Cup winners La Rochelle on Saturday, with the winner facing Antoine Dupont's Toulouse in the last four.


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