Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has urged South Africans to start working together as a nation rather than only thinking about themselves.

He was speaking after collecting the People’s Choice of the Year award, voted for by the public, at the South African Sports Awards held at the Playhouse in Durban on Sunday night.

The Bok skipper says afterwards that he hoped SA’s recent Rugby World Cup triumph will help galvanise the country and get people to start working as a collective in a bid to be rid of some of the social ills they were experiencing. Kolisi added that a broken South Africa was what drove them towards fixing the nation.

SA Rugby was one of the biggest winners at the 2019 event following their World Cup victory in Japan a little over a week ago. Kolisi’s national team boss Rassie Erasmus was also voted Coach of the Year.

The national captain faced some stiff competition for his award, with Percy Tau, Thembi Kgatlana, Gerda Steyn and Bongi Msomi all having been on the shortlist.

Kolisi says that touching lives, as he has done by becoming the first black player to lead the Springboks, was more important to him than titles and trophies.

South Africa’s win in Japan saw them join New Zealand as the only country to win the World Cup three times. They first won it when the country was fresh out of apartheid in 1995, under the leadership of Francois Pienaar, and followed that up 12 years later when John Smit raised the trophy in France.

Another 12 years on and Kolisi was the man who lifted the William Web Ellis Trophy in Yokohama. Kolisi says staying at the top will be a huge challenge for him and his team. Report by Thahir Asmal