Springboks confirm: ‘On track’ Siya Kolisi’s World Cup dream is alive and WELL
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says he is optimistic about Siya Kolisi’s recovery and revealed he will be given “as much time as possible” to regain fitness and lead the Springboks at the World Cup.
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Kolisi partially tore to his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) as well as injured meniscus on both sides of his right knee and had to undergo corrective surgery in May.
It was initially feared that the inspiration Springbok skipper would miss both the Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup later this year.
Earlier this month, SA Rugby said it would closely monitor Kolisi’s rehabilitation, but it was too early to make any reliable forecasts on when he may be able to return to play.
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BIG DEVELOPMENT IN KOLISI RECOVERY PROCESS
However, on Thursday there was another big update out of the Springbok camp regarding the captain’s race against time to prove his fitness.
In wide-ranging media briefing at SARU House (SA Rugby’s head-quarters) in Cape Town on Thursday, Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus addressed the availability and selection of Kolisi.
“He is hitting his markers,” Nienaber told reporters.
“In terms of where he has to be in terms of a recovery point of view, I think he is on track. There will be a couple of markers that on a specific day he needs to be there, and he needs to tick those boxes… But currently, he is on track in terms of his rehab,” Nienaber told reporters.
“[A return to play date] will be determined medically and whether he is ticking his markers. If we go back in 2019, Siya didn’t participate in any matches of the Rugby Championship [and] he also was carrying an injury.
“Then we played him in an Argentina Test match off the bench, and his first start was against Japan, in Japan, for that warm-up game for the Rugby World Cup.
“If you look at that, I think Siya is a guy who has done it before and we will look at giving him as much time as possible, because history has shown us he is the type of guy who doesn’t need to play in Test matches before a World Cup, and then he comes and slot in and produce performances.”
SPRINGBOKS UNLIKELY TO REPLACE KOLISI AS CAPTAIN
SA’s director of rugby, Erasmus revealed that they are so confident of Kolisi’s return to action that it is unlikely that a new skipper will be appointed to replace him.
“We won’t replace him as captain, we’ll have stand-in captains because at this stage we’ll have three warm-ups. We are hoping, the way he is hitting his markers currently, that he will play in one of those matches.
“Even if he is not 100% ready for the Scotland Test match, it’s a long time until the final of the World Cup and being our captain, having been there and done that … he’s the kind of guy who can do it like he did at the last World Cup.
“So we are fairly confident [he’ll go to the World Cup].”
Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi during the camp in Durba. Photo: SA Rugby website.
SOUTH AFRICA’S 2023 TEST FIXTURES
8 July: Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
15 July: South Africa vs New Zealand (Mount Smart, Auckland)
29 July: South Africa vs Argentina (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
World Cup warm-ups
5 August: South Africa vs Argentina (Vélez Stadium, Buenos Aires)
19 August: South Africa vs Wales (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)
25 August: Springbok vs New Zealand (Twickenham Stadium, London)
Rugby World Cup
10 September: South Africa vs Scotland (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
17 September: Springbok vs Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
23 September: South Africa vs Ireland (Stade de France, Saint-Denis, Paris)
1 October: South Africa vs Tonga (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)