Siya doubt but Bok 'papas' will face Ireland

rugby12 March 2024 13:10| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich
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Siya Kolisi © Gallo Images

Rassie Erasmus says he is “sussing out” whether Siya Kolisi will continue with the captaincy but it is likely that he will stick with the World Cup-winning formula and the players who brought the trophy home when the Springboks face Ireland in a two-test series on South African soil in July.

With most of the key players either 30 or older when the Boks won their second successive title in France last October, the biggest challenge for Bok coach Erasmus going forward will be to ensure the average age of the team does not tip over to beyond the 30 mark when the next World Cup in Australia arrives in 2027.

Judging from what he said in a press conference in Cape Town on Tuesday though, Erasmus feels his team has unfinished business when they host Ireland, who they have not beaten since 2016, in Pretoria and Durban in a two-test series in July.

And to that end, and to create a winning platform to build off, he intends to stick with the core of the team that won the last World Cup.

The question over Kolisi’s leadership comes about because the two-time World Cup-winning captain is currently based in France. Erasmus, who now slots back into the head coach’s role following the departure of Jacques Nienaber for Leinster, has always said he’d prefer to have his captain based in South Africa due to logistical reasons, which explains his uncertainty.

“I would always love to have a captain locally based because he can then hop on a flight and we can have a weekend together to work on stuff,” said Erasmus .

“This is a unique situation. He will be considered (for the captaincy) and I think he will play some test matches. He definitely wants to and he is playing well enough. If we get the feeling that it is doable, and the players of course know him so well, maybe there is a place for that, but I will first have to suss it out and see if it works.”


It was understood in some quarters when Kolisi signed for his club in France, Racing 92, that there was a clause in his contract preventing him from playing for the Boks, but Erasmus denied that was the case.

“There are a lot of players who have signed for overseas clubs with clauses in their contracts saying they will stop playing international rugby and just play for their club. Obviously then the club will give him more money because that player will be available whenever they need him. Siya did not sign a clause like that and he wants to continue playing for South Africa.”

It is unlikely though that Kolisi will be playing the first Bok match of the year against Wales in late June because it falls outside of the international window, a fact that Erasmus feels precludes that game from being a preparation for the Ireland series, with the two test matches in Pretoria and Durban already sold out within hours of tickets going on sale.

“We have quite a few players playing overseas who won’t be available outside the international window, guys like RG Snyman at Munster and Steven Kitshoff at Ulster, so there will obviously be different guys playing in that game,” said the Bok coach.

“That makes it a stand-alone game for us as there will obviously be quite a few players who won’t be playing for us against Ireland.”


Although the next four years building up to the Boks’ quest for a hat-trick of successive World Cup titles in Australia in 2027 will have to see new players being bled into the system, as many of the players who won the title in France will be well into their 30s, Erasmus indicated that beating Ireland would be the first priority. That would mean there will be players playing in those two games that he may not be expecting to necessarily be there four years from now.

“In 2018 we did a roadmap for players and we asked where they will be in 2019, 2023 and 2027, so we know exactly which players we think will last another year and we have given them specific tasks to reach milestones because they are still good enough,” said Erasmus.

“We are playing against Ireland who are No 2 in the world and who we haven’t beaten since 2016. So we first have to rectify that and we will probably still use some of those old guys who know them (Ireland) well and have played against them before. We have a gradual system in place where we ask ourselves if this papa (old man) is going to say goodbye now.

“It is a challenge, but a challenge more so to tell the player he must stop now. I think that is really a tough one because some guys in their 30s can see themselves winning another World Cup. Johnny Sexton was 38 at the World Cup but I don’t see our age going over the average of 29 or 30.”