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'Not functional': Reason why Cheslin Kolbe won't face All Blacks

By Liam Heagney

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The Springboks have explained why Cheslin Kolbe has unfortunately not made it back to play a part for his country in the Australian-based part of the Rugby Championship campaign. The soon-to-be 28-year-old earned his 18th Test cap in the August 21 win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth. 

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However, the 2019 World Cup winner hasn’t been able to play since then and has not been able to overcome a training ground injury, Kolbe only managing to take part in some of the Tuesday session held by the Springboks before their latest team announcement. 

With the South Africans losing all three of the matches they have so far played in Australia, there was hope that the delayed inclusion of Kolbe could help fire up their attack but coach Jacques Nienaber has now outlined that next Saturday’s round six finale versus the All Blacks on the Gold Coast has come too soon for the player who recently transferred from Toulouse to Toulon on a money-spinning Top 14 deal. 

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“He got injured in that booster week we had (before the Championship), in the Friday session where we had a game simulation,” explained Nienaber about the leg injury that has ruled out the finisher who has scored nine tries in his Test career, including a crucial five-pointer in the series-deciding Lions third Test. “He picked up an injury there and it’s a four-to-six-week injury. 

“We went through the whole rehab process and part of returning to play is you participate in training sessions. Last week, maybe non-contact sessions and limited exposure to the training sessions and then this week there was more exposure, getting him through more contact, getting him comfortable with it. 

“All our (rehabbing) players are like that and the moment a player doesn’t feel comfortable or we can see from a coaching point of view he is not functional yet as we know him. He will still train tomorrow [Wednesday]. He will still train the whole week with us until we see his functioning is good enough and he is confident in his ability and then we will reintroduce him back into a game. 

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It would have been nice to have Cheslin back to play this weekend but we have full confidence in Sbu (Nkosi). He has been excellent for us since 2018 when we [Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus] came back from Munster. We gave him his first Test match against England and we have had some good times with Sbu. He has been excellent for us.”

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'Not functional': Reason why Cheslin Kolbe won't face All Blacks

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