Cheslin Kolbe eager to face Lions as European final awaits

"The final this weekend feels much more nerve-wracking than the final I played at the World Cup."

World Cup-winner Cheslin Kolbe is looking forward to adding to his list of impressive achievements by facing the British and Irish Lions in July and August.

The gifted South Africa wing starred as the Springboks triumphed at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, scoring a try in a 32-12 win over England in the final.

This Saturday he will try to add a European Champions Cup title to his CV when he turns out for Toulouse against French rivals La Rochelle in a Twickenham final.

Victory would see Toulouse, the current leaders of France’s Top 14, crowned champions of Europe for a record fifth time.

But Kolbe is also excited by the prospect of facing the Lions in a three-Test campaign.

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Given the combined side tour one of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia once every four years, many opposition players in the three southern hemisphere giants only get one chance in their careers to play in a Lions series.

“There is a lot of excitement for me, to be honest, playing in a final, having only been here for four years at Toulouse, and then hopefully being part of the Lions tour that is coming to South Africa,” Kolbe said Wednesday.

“It would definitely be a highlight in my career and something that I would definitely love to be a part of.

“But first things first, we’ve got a final this weekend, and that’s where my all my energy and focus is vested into.”

For all their proud European tradition, Toulouse take on first-time finalists La Rochelle having not won the tournament since 2010.

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Kolbe admitted the tension surrounding Toulouse’s quest for a fifth title was affecting him, saying: “I spoke to my wife last night, and I said for some unknown reason the final this weekend feels much more nerve-wracking than the final I played at the World Cup.”

He added: “I think it’s probably (partly due to) the long wait, Toulouse not getting the fifth title, and I think there is a bit of, not pressure, but expectations, from the public, from the club.

“Toulouse has got an incredible history with the incredible players it has produced throughout the years, and obviously, achieving so much with the Champions Cup and the Top 14.

“So, definitely a bit of history all around, but I think it is there to motivate us to, hopefully, succeed this coming Saturday.”

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