Cheslin Kolbe has handed South Africa a big boost by confirming he avoided any injury in Saturday’s 23-13 loss to New Zealand.
The Toulouse wing lit up the Yokohama clash, bamboozling All Blacks defenders with his lightning footwork.
The 25-year-old offered everything but a try on his Rugby World Cup debut, before receiving medical attention and appearing in pain late in the engaging tussle.
A simple case of cramp stands as huge relief for a Springboks group now bidding to become the first team to taste defeat in the pool stages and lift the World Cup.
And Kolbe insisted he will be fit and ready to go for South Africa’s second Pool B clash, against Namibia in Toyota on Saturday.
Asked if he had feared a serious injury when grimacing on the turf, Kolbe said: “I wasn’t worried at all. I had a bit of cramp and just a little shock on the ankle, but it’s nothing; nothing to worry about.
“I should be fine. I’ll just manage myself and make sure that I get the best recovery.”
Kolbe’s bullet pace and instinctive shape-shifting could well prove the combination to elevate him above all others at this tournament.
The 25-year-old tore through New Zealand almost at will in the second half, and would have scored a wonder try were it not for a masterful cover tackle from Richie Mo’unga.
Rather than lament the opportunity lost, Kolbe instead pointed to improvements he now wants to make in his own game.
Ireland or Scotland could well face the Springboks in a quarter-final, and neither team will be greatly enamoured by the prospect of Kolbe hitting even greater heights.
Critiquing that chance lost when Mo’unga hauled him back from a fine finish, Kolbe said: “He showed a good pair of wheels. I think I could have gone a bit quicker to his outside and backed myself.
“I’ll just make sure that whenever there’s another opportunity like that I’ll capitalise.
“We had a good 10-minute start in the first half, but then there were some loose balls that didn’t stick. They just capitalised on our mistakes.
“They played a very good kicking game. The World Cup is not going to be about attacking. There were a few balls we just couldn’t handle in the air.
“We know they’re a quality side and you can’t give them any scraps because they’ll punish you. So they really capitalised on that and they got the points.
“We’ll just keep our heads up high and keep on working for the next game and make sure that we don’t drop our heads.
“My first game in a World Cup is a memory I’ll take with me throughout my career. It’s not the result that we wanted. But it’s still a long competition.
“We don’t have to get ahead of ourselves, we’ll just make sure that we focus on the next game.”
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