Siya Kolisi to retain Springbok captaincy

Two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will retain the captain’s armband when the world champions return to the field in the Castle Lager Incoming Series, which kicks off against Ireland in Pretoria on Saturday, 6 July, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus announced on Wednesday.

Erasmus confirmed that Kolisi, who is based overseas with French club Racing 92, will again lead the team, ending speculation that Kolisi could be replaced by a locally-based Bok captain. Kolisi guided the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2019 in Japan and 2023 in France.

“Siya will be the captain and will again wear the No 6 jersey,” said Erasmus. “He’s fit and isn’t carrying any injuries.”

Erasmus also provided good news on the injury front following concerns about several players carrying minor injuries following the Test against Wales, which the Boks won 41-13: “Where we are currently standing with injuries is that Cheslin (Kolbe) has been cleared to play, and we’ll manage Edwill (van der Merwe), Faf (de Klerk), and (Makazole) Mapimpi this week, although they should be available for selection for the first Ireland Test,” said Erasmus.

The coach added that wing Canan Moodie, who had surgery to repair a fractured finger earlier this month, could also make a welcome return to the national team in the next few weeks. 

With a handful of less experienced players and four potential debutants named in the 39-man squad announced on Tuesday, Erasmus re-emphasised the importance of building squad depth as the team springs into full action with an eye on building toward to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

“We earmarked Jan-Hendrik Wessels from our Elite Player Development (EPD) system from under 15 level, when he was playing prop then,” said Erasmus. “We don’t have control over where the franchises select the players, but with him being able to play hooker and prop it offers us additional options among the forwards.

“Johan Grobbelaar was also one of the stand-out hookers in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship this season for the Vodacom Bulls, while Sacha (Feinberg-Mngomezulu) has also come through the ranks, and he has been part of our structures before with the SA ‘A’ team and he understands our systems and slotted in with ease. We are a at a stage where we are trying to expose players to the Springbok environment as much as possible.

“We had four new capped players against Wales, and we have four debutants in this squad – Phepsi Buthelezi, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Johan Grobbelaar and Morne van den Berg – and there could be a few more against Portugal if we achieve our goals against Ireland, so we could have a healthy new crop of national players later in this season.”

Erasmus added: “Looking forward to the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, the young players who put up their hands against Wales and during the Castle Lager Incoming Series will certainly be looked at for selection.”

Casting an eye on the two Tests against Ireland, Erasmus refused to be drawn into the reported banter from the Irish saying: “If there’s one team that has the upper hand, it’s them. We haven’t beaten them since 2016.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Rugby.

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