Rassie Erasmus has confirmed skipper Siya Kolisi will miss the Springboks’ opening rounds of the Rugby Championship later this month.
South Africa kick off their tournament with fixtures in Johannesburg against Australia and in Wellington against New Zealand, but their captain will be absent and could instead feature in some Currie Cup action to get back up to speed for over Test matches.
Kolisi has been part of a 39-strong training squad preparing this week in Pretoria and Erasmus has outlined how the goal is for his skipper to be ready for the World Cup in Japan.
“We will probably a bit conservative with Siya to make sure he is ready for the Rugby World Cup, which is the most important part of the year,” explained Erasmus about a player who suffered a knee injury in the latter stages of the Super Rugby season.
“We will wait for the results of his scans on Friday, and then we will take it from there and see what the return to play protocol will be.
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“Siya will be training with us until we leave for New Zealand and then he will probably stay behind to play one or two Currie Cup games. Thereafter, we plan to get him back into playing Test match rugby, hopefully in the match against Argentina (in Pretoria on August 17), and then it’s on the plane with us to Japan.
“If we push him now to go with us to New Zealand, we might end up with more than a 50 percent chance that he won’t go with us to the World Cup.”
In the injury-absence of Kolisi, Erasmus indicated he will consider more than one captain to lead the Springboks in their opening matches of the international season.
“We have a few players who need game time, who we want to consider for captaincy. Eben Etzebeth (if he is cleared to play) and Pieter-Steph du Toit haven’t played a lot lately – both need game time and might be considered for the captaincy, while we also have the likes of Duane Vermeulen, Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx, all of whom have captained their respective franchise teams this season.”
Erasmus added that he intends to make a call on the captaincy as early as next week: “Depending on how things will go after Siya’s scan results and Eben’s X-ray, we will make that call on Monday. We have some good options compared to last year in terms of candidates for the captaincy.”
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