Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will be given enough time to fully recover from his knee injury and will in all likelihood miss the opening Tests of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, in Johannesburg against Australia and in Wellington against New Zealand, in the next three weeks.
However, according to Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, Kolisi’s return to play could include some game time in the Currie Cup, which is sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services.
Erasmus confirmed on Wednesday that Springbok skipper will miss at least the opening fortnight of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. However, Kolisi will remain in camp with the Springbok training group to continue with his rehabilitation programme.
Erasmus addressed the media in Pretoria, where the 39-player national training group are preparing for the forthcoming international season.
According to Erasmus, the Boks won’t rush Kolisi back into action: “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.
“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.
“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,” Erasmus explained.
In the injury-absence of Kolisi, Erasmus indicated that he will consider more than one captain to lead the Springboks in their opening matches of the international season.
“We have a few players who need game time, who we want to consider for captaincy,” said Erasmus.
“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.”
Erasmus said that he intends to make a call on the captaincy as early as next week: “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.”
The Springboks did not practice on Wednesday – the players and management were kitted out by sponsor ASICS – and will resume training activities on Friday.