Injured Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi will have an important off-field role to play over the course of the Rugby Championship. JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg reports.
Kolisi sustained a serious knee injury toward the end of the Vodacom Super Rugby conference stage. The flank will miss at least two matches of the Rugby Championship and it’s not yet known exactly when he will return to the playing field.
The Bok skipper has remained with the team, however, in the buildup to the first Test of the 2019 season. As a media conference on Monday afternoon commenced, Kolisi could be seen leading the players out of a meeting in an adjacent room.
Bok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot told SARugbymag.co.za that Kolisi has been heavily involved with the planning for the Rugby Championship. Clearly head coach Rassie Erasmus wants his leadership core together – whether all of these players are fully fit or not – in the months leading up to the World Cup.
‘We’ve been pleased with the way Siya has been progressing with his injury,’ Proudfoot said. ‘He’s been around the camp for quite some time, so just because he’s injured doesn’t mean he’s not part of this.
‘Siya has really grown as a leader over the years. I’ve known him since the age of 19 [when Proudfoot first coached Kolisi at the Stormers]. We had another chat today to see how his role has come along – now that he’s off the field. He’s been great in that respect.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) July 15, 2019
It’s believed that Eben Etzebeth will lead the Boks against the Wallabies this Saturday. Duane Vermeulen is likely to captain the side that tackles the All Blacks in Wellington next week.
‘It’s been pleasing to see how many franchise captains are in the current squad, guys like Pieter-Steph du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Beast Mtawarira,’ Proudfoot said. ‘There are a lot of captains available. Now it will fall on someone else’s shoulders to take that mantle going forward until Siya is ready.’
The forwards coach confirmed that the Boks have made a plan to fill the void left by Kolisi at No 6. Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee and Rynhardt Elstadt are all in the running for a start against Australia. Kwagga Smith could start at openside flank against New Zealand.
‘Balance is important in that area. How you pick a back row can determine whether you control the flow of the game or not.
‘Kwagga was with us leading into the June Test series last year. So it was more of a refresher for him to join us now. Rynhardt had an incredible season for Toulouse. The way he played in the Top 14 final was superb.
‘I’ve known Rynhardt for as long as I’ve known Siya. He’s a player with a very high work rate. It’s a good addition to the side. He understands how we play and I think Rassie has been prudent in bringing players in from the outside who can add an extra dimension to the team.’
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