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'Awesome' Springboks reaction to having Kolisi back in their team

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Jacques Nienaber has hailed the advance in medical science that has resulted in Siya Kolisi being ready to take the pitch on Saturday for the Springboks just 119 days after he suffered a serious knee injury when playing for the Sharks in Durban in the URC.


It was feared at the time that the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning skipper would not be available in time for the upcoming 2023 finals in France, which South Africa start with a September 10 pool match versus Scotland in Marseille.

However, the 32-year-old has shaken off all the pessimism surrounding his injury to be selected in the Springboks team to face Wales in this Saturday’s Summer Nations Series just 17 weeks after he limped out of his club’s league fixture versus Munster at Kings Park.

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Bok lock Jean Kleyn on Warren Gatland’s Wales

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Bok lock Jean Kleyn on Warren Gatland’s Wales

His selection in a South African team that shows 11 changes from their last outing on August 5 against Argentina vindicates the faith Nienaber and co had in their team captain to pitch up fit in time for the finals in France and the coach paid tribute to his inspirational back-rower on Tuesday in Cardiff.

“A lot of things have changed and that is probably the beauty of the medical world and science, how specialised the support staff of our team and the other teams have become and how they look after the people and the high-performance environment they put around player show have got injuries,” said Nienaber, chuffed that he was able to name Kolisi in the Springboks team just three and a half weeks out from the start of the World Cup.


“Especially with this group, we still have a squad of 42 that had to be looked after… a lot of guys who were injured are back now, but they [the medical/S&C staff] still had to look after the guys who are on the field now. The work that the performance and medical group have put in was outstanding to look after him but also not to neglect the other guys.

“It is awesome having him back. He had been part of the team for quite some time, it is not like he was out. He did his rehab with us and was with us the majority of time.


“Although he did his own rehab stuff on the side, he was part of the team sessions and although he is only on the field now, he was part of the team from the start. It’s nice to have hit back and playing again because he has worked hard and he really deserves it.

“Siya has put a lot of effort and sacrifice in to be ready now. It’s a reward for him to be ready to get an opportunity to play and it is nice for the team to have him back because he has been an integral part of this team over the last six years that we have been together.

“It will be nice to give him some game exposure over the next couple of games to make sure he is battle-hardened and ready and sharp when we go into the World Cup and into that same against Scotland.”

What particularly helped Kolisi through his arduous rehab? “He actually took a lot of encouragement from guys with previous injuries, guys in the group who had the same injury as him,” explained Nienaber.


“He mentioned that it was nice when he was feeling sore and went to them, they said, ‘No, this is good, I felt the same way’. He probably amplifies that if you are willing to work incredibly hard with specialists around you and you are willing to sacrifice everything, anything is possible.

“Whenever there is an injury, you are never 100 per cent sure. You have certain markers over time, and he was hitting them consistently and sometimes a little bit quicker than we expected.

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“Those markers are objective, does he have full range of movement, does he have full extension, does he have this, does he have that?

“The moment he hits all these markers he can progress to the next stage. In the beginning, you are not sure.

“A setback can come and then you have to pull back a bit and then you have to wait until it settles down and then he can push again. I don’t think he had one setback in all the markers.”


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Shaylen 334 days ago

Great leader and Boks need him however he will be rusty for sure and it will be interesting to see if he can match the performance levels that they expect of him or which they need him to be at in order to be effective in the team

tom 335 days ago

Now THIS is the news rugby fans wanted to hear today. What a leader.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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