Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is on track with his rehabilitation from knee ligament surgery and could be given until the start of the Rugby World Cup itself to be ready to lead his team at the global showpiece event in France.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and SARU director of rugby Rassie Erasmus told a press conference in Cape Town on Thursday that stand-in captains will be appointed to lead the team in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship that will be played as a prelude to the World Cup.
“Historically we have been through this before and we know that Siya can play at a World Cup and do a good job of leading the team as that was what happened in 2019,” said Nienaber.
“You will recall that Siya was injured back then as well and did not play through most of the build-up to the tournament. He didn’t lead the team when we won the Rugby Championship that year, and from memory he only played off the bench in our final warmup test in Pretoria before our departure and then he played in the game we played against Japan in Japan two weeks before the start of the tournament.
Nienaber added that Kolisi will be giving him right up until the tournament itself if that has to be the case as the fixture list for the World Cup makes it possible for him to ease his way into full match fitness in the initial stages of the tournament.
The Boks play the All Blacks in a warmup game in London two weeks before the kickoff of the World Cup.
??Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and DOR Rassie Erasmus give an update on Siya Kolisi’s injury.????
“We won’t replace him, he’s our captain,” Erasmus says. pic.twitter.com/NL0XZKlXY4— Avuyile Sawula (@av_sawula) May 25, 2023
'HITTING ALL THE TARGETS'
It will be recalled that it wasn't Kolisi but experienced and respected No 8 Duane Vermeulen who led the team to the Rugby Championship win in the last World Cup year.
Erasmus stressed that it was because of Kolisi’s role in the team that they were prepared to give him until the last minute to prove his readiness to lead the team at the Rugby World Cup that begins in September.
“It is because he is captain that we are doing this. So far he is hitting all the targets and his recovery is proceeding well,” said Erasmus.
Cred: SiyaKolisi Instagram pic.twitter.com/0JvBZxUxQl— RHABULA ???? | 2023 Rugby World Cup (@Rugby_Scoop) May 17, 2023
The director of rugby, who coached the Boks to the World Cup title in Japan four years ago, said the main emphasis at this point was the preparation for the Rugby Championship.
“We have found it is better to take each challenge as it comes and go step by step in a World Cup year rather than getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
A squad of between 32 and 35 players will be named on Saturday night after the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final between the DHL Stormers and Munster at DHL Stadium for a training camp that will take place next week and mark the more intensified start to the preparations for the international season.
“We don’t want to announce the group before the final as that can sometimes impact on the focus of the players and we are eager to see the Stormers do well,” said Erasmus.