Kolbe's return a possible boost for Boks against Ireland

rugby13 June 2024 07:53| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich
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Cheslin Kolbe © Gallo Images

The Springboks may have their double World Cup winning wing Cheslin Kolbe available to play in the first of the two tests against Ireland.

Kolbe was withdrawn from the Bok squad earlier in the week as he had a slight knee niggle he’d picked up playing club rugby in Japan and went for specialist opinion. That opinion must have been relatively positive as he’s been added back to the camp currently being held in Pretoria to follow a rehabilitation programme.

It doesn’t look like he will be available to play in the first test of the year against Wales at Twickenham on 22 June but the positive part of the press release, issued by the Bok management announcing Kolbe’s return to camp on Thursday, was that he “will do his rehabilitation under the supervision of the Bok medical staff with an eye on possibly being available for selection for the opening test of the Castle Lager Incoming Tour against Ireland”.

There is likely to be an experimental look to the team selected for the Wales test, which falls outside of the international window and won’t feature players committed to European or UK clubs.

However, the Boks are heading into the all-important Ireland series, where the No 1 and No 2 sides in the world ill clash, with a couple of regular frontliners unavailable so having Kolbe’s experience available for the game will be a big boost.


One of those absentees from the selection mix for the Ireland test is Kolbe’s fellow X-factor speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse and another wing, Canan Moodie, is also out injured currently. Coach Rassie Erasmus will get a chance to look at possible alternatives, should they be needed in the Wales test.

Kolbe’s unavailability for the Twickenham game strengthens the chances of Emirates Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe making his debut in that game.

Makazole Mapimpi, a 2019 World Cup winner in Japan and the scorer of the first ever Bok try in the final of the global rugby event, is the only other specialist wing in the squad.

Erasmus has used Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi on the wing before so that is another option open to the Bok coach, who reassumed that role at the start of the year following Jacques Nienaber’s move to Leinster.

Another player who could conceivably play on the wing is Grant Williams, normally a scrumhalf, and knowing Erasmus’ penchant for left field and brave selections and his appetite for experimentation that is by no means out of the question.


We will know the answers when the team for the Wales game is announced next Tuesday. Apart from wing, another position where the Boks are going to need a newcomer is fullback, with Willie le Roux unavailable due to his commitments to the Vodacom Bulls’ Vodacom United Rugby Championship challenge and Damian Willemse out injured.

Apart from Fassi, who is already capped, and the uncapped Lions No 15 Quan Horn, another option open to Erasmus is the talented young Stormers utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who would also provide excellent place-kicking backup to whoever plays flyhalf - surely Manie Libbok - if he is selected elsewhere in the backline.