Marcus Rea relishing Siya Kolisi clash

Marcus Rea used to cheer Ulster on from the Kingspan Stadium terraces with his dad Thomas and older brother Matty, tomorrow night the flanker will go head-to-head with South African World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 2:26 pm

The Springbok loose forward is part of a strong Sharks travelling party for the final regular season league game in the United Rugby Championship with the winner booking a home quarter-final in the knockout stages.

Kolisi was inspirational on and off the pitch in Japan as South Africa claimed the William Webb Ellis trophy for a third time and Rea is looking forward to locking horns with the South African skipper.

“I’ve played against big players, I’ve played in Six Nations Championships in the past, it will be good fun playing against him and seeing how the breakdown and carries,” said Rea.

Ulster’s Marcus Rea is looking forward to going head-to-head with South Africa’s World Cup-wining captain Siya Kolisi. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“It will be very much a one-on-one battle and trying to limit him to very little hopefully.

“It was always a dream but it is pretty cool having the South African teams in so you come up against these players.

“It is a pretty cool experience and I never thought that I would maybe get a chance to play against him because at that stage they were still Super Rugby. Seeing him on TV playing against the New Zealand and the Australian teams.

“It was probably something I never thought about until two or three years ago when there were whispers that the South African teams coming in was coming to fruition.”

Rea watched Kolisi lift the World Cup in full admiration for his performances.

“Yeah, he was pretty integral, he was basically the core of the South African team with his leadership and the way he plays,” he said.

“For any player watching him there is loads of stuff you can take away by keeping an eye on him.”

Luckily Rea won’t have to far to go to get the inside track on Kolisi as his Ulster teammate Duane Vermeulen playing in the world cup winning back row.

“Duane is very switched on and he obviously knows what the South African teams are like and the difference players and personalities,” he said.

“He is very smart with how technical he is and even just his knowledge of players he will give you little pockets of information that you will be able to use against them at certain times in the match.”

Rea has enjoyed facing the South African franchises backrows in during their inaugural season in northern hemisphere rugby.

“They are very physical,” he said. “When you think of South Africa that is one of the things they are brought up on, you do notice that, but we have a pretty good squad to nullify that especially with Jared and the defensive work that we do.

“We hope to nullify as much of their aggression through what we do as a team rather than individuals.

After exiting Europe in the last 16 Rea wants to end the season on a high in the URC.

“Once we were knocked out of Europe it was very much we went into the shed and said we still have a competition to play for, we still have a home quarter-final to play for and that is exactly where our intentions changed to,” he said.

“Beating Edinburgh on their home patch was huge because it hadn’t been done this season, so we reacted well. If we’d lost or drawn that game it would have been doubly tough, but the fact we got back on the horse in a tough arena we are full steam ahead to win this.”