Kolisi captaincy poser as Springboks start World Cup preparation
The importance of Siya Kolisi to South Africa's Rugby World Cup defence has been underlined by his inclusion Tuesday in a preliminary Springbok training camp despite undergoing knee ligament surgery.
The 2019 World Cup-winning captain went under the knife last month and is a doubt for the showpiece in France in September and October.
But Kolisi is one of 15 players called up for the camp from May 17-19.
Kolisi seems certain to miss South Africa's matches in the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, which starts with a match against Australia in Pretoria on July 8.
But he clearly remains part of coach Jacques Nienaber’s planning. Nienaber said the camp in Durban next month would include both on-field and off-field activities.
The Durban get-together excludes players from the Stormers, who play in a United Rugby Championship semi-final this weekend, as well as most overseas-based players.
Also invited to the Durban camp is Eben Etzebeth, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Etzebeth is one of the candidates to take over the captaincy for the Rugby Championship – and possibly for the World Cup.
The captaincy shapes as a major poser for the Springbok coaching staff.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard is the current vice-captain and led the team against Wales last July but he is still involved with English club Leicester.
Another potential captaincy candidate is prop Steven Kitshoff, who has impressed as the leader of the Stormers, the most successful South African franchise this season.
There will be a second camp from May 29-31 with what is expected to be an expanded group of players.
“The camps will include both off and on-field sessions and they will offer us a great opportunity to get the building blocks in place for our first full-on training camp in June,” said Nienaber.
The Springboks will start their official preparations for the Rugby Championship and World Cup with a camp in Pretoria from June 12 to 30 which will be attended by a much larger group of players.