Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Mzwandile Stick looking forward to seeing Kolbe in action for Springboks

Stick is also excited to see the halfback battle between Damian Willemse and Jaden Hendrikse and Johnny Sexton and Connor Murray.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick is excited to see what star outside back Cheslin Kolbe can do from fullback when the Springboks and Ireland meet in their end-of-year-tour clash at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night (kick-off 7:30pm).

Kolbe, who spent most of his early playing years at fullback, has morphed into arguably the most exciting wing in world rugby, but will be playing his first international game at fullback against Ireland.

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“It is good to have Cheslin back. He is a world class player, he’s very skilful, and might be small in stature but he has a big heart. We all know what he can do and we are excited to see him on the field again,” admitted Stick.

“Giving him an opportunity at fullback was always the plan. He was always our back-up to Willie (le Roux), and we have Willie on the bench, who has done the job for us before.

“If you look at the balance we have got with our outside backs it makes me excited to see what Cheslin can do from the back. He has a lot of experience playing with (Makazole) Mapimpi, and in Kurt-Lee (Arendse) some people say it’s a copy and paste (type of player they are).

“So our balance is really good at the back and if you look at the guys we have on the bench, like Willie, we know we are covered if anything (injury) happens. We also know (Johnny) Sexton is very experienced but we believe that Cheslin can do the job at the back.”

Halfback battle

Stick is also excited to see the youthful halfback pairing of flyhalf Damian Willemse and scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, go up against their extremely experienced opposite numbers, in Sexton, who has over a hundred Irish caps and a thousand international points, and Connor Murray who will be playing in his 100th international.

“If you look at the combination between Jaden and Gaza (Willemse), they are young and exciting players, and you have seen over the season they were both given an opportunity and have really stepped up,” said Stick.

“I think it is very different between the two halfback pairings. On the one side you have guys with a lot of x-factor, and on the other side you have very experienced guys, with Sexton who controls their team very well.

“If you look around the world they are probably one of the best attacking sides, because Sexton is there as their captain running the show. So it is going to be a difficult challenge for us. But once again, the key thing for us is to make sure we execute our game plan very well.”

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