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Siya back as Bok’s skipper

FOLLOWING reports of overweight and ‘fat’ he had to hit the gym intensively.

Yes, that’s Springboks winning captain Siya Kolisi, who graced headlines for all wrong reasons, health of course.

But since then, the Zwide born (Eastern Cape), has fought back, and as a result, his mentor and coach Dr Rassie Erasmus has retained him as the captain.

He will lead his charges against Ireland at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria, next Saturday, for the Castle Lager Incoming Series opener.

The announcement was made today in Pretoria, as RWC prepares for the battle up against the stubborn Irish side. The team only arrived in the country on Tuesday evening, after a flight delay in London, having walloped Wales last weekend 41-13.

Dr Erasmus also included some players from the Bulls, who did not feature last week due to Vodacom URC, of which they lost the match.

The retention of Kolisi, who is based overseas with French club Racing 92, ends speculation that the Number 6 star, could be replaced by a locally-based Bok captain.

“Siya will be the captain and will again wear the No 6 jersey,” said Erasmus. “He’s fit and isn’t carrying any injuries.” He was in London on the sidelines prepping up the team.

Kolisi guided the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in 2019 in Japan and 2023 in France, respectively.

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.

“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 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.”

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.”

As he’s name refers ‘siyamthanda’ loosely translated ‘we love him’ Siya is back, free from injuries as well.

Image (Back in the fold. Siyamthanda Kolisi clinching the air with fists, returns to the Bok squad as captain).

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