Nienaber’s emphatic answer: Kolisi will keep Bok captaincy

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said ‘nothing has changed’ when asked if Siya Kolisi would retain the captaincy of the team for the upcoming British & Irish Lions series.

After leading the team to the 2019 World Cup triumph in Yokohama, Kolisi experienced a difficult 2020, during which he struggled for consistent game time.

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Speaking after Saturday’s 46-man Springbok squad announcement, Nienaber was asked – seeing as the British & Irish Lions had made a point of officially announcing Alun Wyn Jones as their tour captain – whether Kolisi would retain the Springbok captaincy, as it was not officially confirmed during the team announcement.

‘Yes, yes, 100%,’ Nienaber answered. ‘We didn’t announce him [as captain], but nothing has changed.’

The Bok captain has acknowledged that he struggled last year with a stop-start season, one impacted by a pandemic and disruptive injuries.

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The 29-year-old has not shied away from admitting that he wasn’t at his best in 2020, but also had the self-awareness to highlight that he was the sort of player who needed a consistent run of games to build his way back to his best on the field of play.

Since making the transfer from the Stormers to the Sharks, Kolisi has been put through an intensive conditioning programme under the Durban club’s biokineticist, Jimmy Wright.

This has included working with a dietician and undergoing a phased return to play and he made his first competitive start for the Sharks back in May.

Since then, Kolisi has started to get back to his best, consistently emptying the tank for at least 60 minutes for his new side. While he was part of the number of Springboks rested for the Sharks’ victory over the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, it is expected that he will be back in action in their crunch Rainbow Cup SA match against the Bulls next weekend.

Photo: Getty Images

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Dylan Jack