Craig Lewis

Boks should back captain Kolisi

Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi share a chat Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi share a chat

The extended injury-enforced absence of Warren Whiteley presents the perfect opportunity to hand Siya Kolisi the Springbok captaincy during the Rugby Championship, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

At a time when numerous question marks have once again been raised over several selections and omissions in the Bok squad, Coetzee now has an opportunity to make an astute appointment that would serve as a welcome good-news story.

That appointment should see him hand the captaincy armband over to Kolisi for the duration of Whiteley's absence, which looks set to be for most – if not all – of the Rugby Championship.

Coetzee seemed to have missed a trick when he opted to give Eben Etzebeth the captaincy for the final dead-rubber Test of the three-match series against France In June. At the time, it appeared an ideal opportunity to empower Kolisi, who had served as the Stormers' captain ahead of Etzebeth throughout Super Rugby.

However, Coetzee later explained that it had long been decided during pre-season team planning camps that Etzebeth would be the man to claim the captaincy from Whiteley should he be unavailable. So, fair play.

When it comes to continuity, perhaps a case could be made to retain Etzebeth in a caretaker captaincy role, but in terms of a forward-thinking approach to the team leadership, Kolisi must be the man.

The 26-year-old has undergone a professional and personal evolution over the past year. In various interviews, he has spoken of how his perspective on leadership has been altered with an appreciation for the roles and responsibilities that come with being a professional sportsman.

In addition, the captaincy handed to him at the Stormers seems to have brought about a heightened sense of needing to lead from the front, while a common refrain from the popular loose forward has been one of ensuring he does his ‘talking’ on the field rather than off it.

Indeed, Kolisi has added to his all-round game to become one of the most influential flankers in South African rugby, while he is virtually assured of a starting berth in the Rugby Championship.

Kolisi ticks every box for a national captain, and there is no better time to hand him the honour of becoming the first black Springbok Test skipper (Chiliboy Ralepelle previously led South Africa in a ‘friendly’ against the World XV in 2006).

At a time when divisive forces continue to run through South African society, the opportunity to celebrate Kolisi's deserved appointment as the leader of the beloved Boks is one that should be seized upon.

He is best mates with Etzebeth as it is, and one can rest assured that the hulking lock would have no issue in ceding the captaincy to Kolisi, who has always appeared to be a more natural fit in a leadership role.

Coetzee has said he will confirm the Bok captain later this week, and what a moment it would be for South African sport if the name announced is that of Siya Kolisi.

ALSO READ: Boks face tough task

Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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