Bok coach Jacques Nienaber says Cheslin Kolbe would have been released from the squad if there wasn’t a belief that he would be available to feature in the latter stages of the Rugby Championship.
Kolbe, who scored a scintillating and series-defining try in the final Test against the British & Irish Lions, has only featured in the solitary Rugby Championship encounter with Argentina towards the end of August.
Sbu Nkosi started on the right wing in the opening clash of the competition, and will wear the No 14 jersey for a second successive week as the Boks get set for a rematch against the Wallabies this Saturday, looking to rebound from this past weekend’s disappointing defeat.
Kolbe suffered a leg injury soon after the team took the training field after coming out of quarantine in Australia, and the Boks superstar remained unavailable for selection this week.
At the Bok team announcement on Wednesday, Nienaber said there were some encouraging signs that Kolbe would soon be able to return to team training, and hopefully come back into selection contention for the upcoming Tests against the All Blacks.
“Cheslin is back and running quite well next to the side of the field, but he’s not someone we will ever rush back. He hasn’t done any team training as yet, but the moment he has full range of motion and strength, and when the medical team is happy with his progress, then we will reintroduce him to team training, and then a return-to-play protocol will follow.
“As coaches, though, we are hoping he will be available by next week or the week after. We wouldn’t have kept him in the squad if we didn’t think he would be ready to play some part in our games [here in Australia].
“Sometimes when you are building towards a return to play, there can be a recurrence of pain if the load is too much, and that then pushes things back a bit. So, it’s not always an exact science, but our projections suggest he will be available for selection within the next two weeks.”
Nienaber added that Lood de Jager was expected to be available for the Test against the All Blacks on 25 September once he had completed a seven-day recovery from a concussion.