Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is set to sit out the team’s first two matches of the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
Kolisi has been out since May after suffering a knee injury during the Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.
While Kolisi was included in the Springbok training group that has assembled for a camp in Pretoria in preparation for the Rugby Championship, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus told the media on Wednesday that the loose forward will not recover in time for the Wallabies match on 20 July. He also likely to miss the clash against the All Blacks in Wellington.
‘We will probably a bit conservative with Siya to make sure he is ready for the Rugby World Cup, which is the most important part of the year,’ Erasmus said. ‘We will wait for the results of his scans on Friday, and then we will take it from there and see what the return-to-play protocol will be.
Erasmus added that he planned to ease Kolisi back through allowing him to play for Western Province in their Currie Cup campaign, which kicks off on 13 July.
‘Siya will be training with us until we leave for New Zealand and then he will probably stay behind to play one or two Currie Cup games. Thereafter, we plan to get him back into playing Test match rugby, hopefully in the match against Argentina [in Pretoria on 17 August], and then it’s on the plane with us to Japan.
‘I think if we push him now to go with us to New Zealand, we might end up with more than a 50 percent chance that he won’t go with us to the World Cup.’
It has not yet been confirmed who will take over the leadership duties in Kolisi’s absence against Australia, but Eben Etzebeth is believed to be a strong candidate.
‘We have a few players who need game time, who we want to consider for captaincy,’ Erasmus said. ‘Eben Etzebeth [if he is cleared to play] and Pieter-Steph du Toit haven’t played a lot lately – both need game time and might be considered for the captaincy, while we also have the likes of Duane Vermeulen, Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx, all of whom have captained their respective franchise teams this season.
‘Depending how things will go after Siya’s scan results and Eben’s x-ray, we will make that call on Monday. We have some good options compared to last year in terms of candidates for the captaincy.’
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