Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said the move to the Sharks played a big role in his excellent performances for the Springboks last year.
Kolisi was voted as the SA Rugby Player of the Year on Thursday, and it was a deserved gong for the loose-forward.
His departure from the Stormers/Western Province was a controversial and difficult one for the Bok leader.
Kolisi said his fitness wasn’t where it was supposed to be and starting a new rugby life in Durban wasn’t easy for him.
“The change was very scary because I’d been with the Stormers for 11 years and whenever you go to a new place, you have to prove yourself,” Kolisi said. “I knew I wasn’t even close to where I was supposed to be, and I was even scared of not making the Springbok team.
“I don’t think I was fit enough. I had the eight-week pre-season and playing again took some time, but the high standards in the camp did help me.”
The Springboks lost five of the Tests they played in 2021, but that did not give an idea into how the Bok camp waded through what was a difficult year.
They had to deal with a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp that saw the second Test against Georgia being canceled.
That led to the Boks being confined to a hard bio-bubble, but in that period, they still beat the British & Irish Lions while also beating the All Blacks in Australia.
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Kolisi said their resilience through the year was one of their biggest takeaways
“The biggest takeout was the way we went about doing things without complaining,” Kolisi said.
“There were stumbles along the way, like the first time we trained as a group was on the Monday before the first Test.
“We all pulled through that, and we made a collective decision to make sacrifices. That’s the kind of spirit the team had and that was huge for us.
“When we face challenges in the future, we’ll be able to adapt, move forward and find solutions.”