Kolisi captaincy future in doubt as Springboks plan ahead

Siya Kolisi in action for the Springboks against the All Blacks. File photo

Springbok rugby coach Rassie Erasmus said on Tuesday that it was uncertain whether double World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi would continue to lead the team.

Speaking at a press conference in Cape Town, Erasmus said Kolisi’s contract with French club Racing 92 did not prevent him from playing for his country and that he would be considered for selection but not necessarily as captain.

“There are a lot of players who signed contracts with clauses that they will stop playing international rugby. Siya did not sign a clause like that so that tells you he wants to play for South Africa,” said Erasmus.

“He will be considered and I think he will play some Test matches.”

Kolisi, 32, captained the Springboks to victory in the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups but the flank forward will be 36 when the next World Cup is played in 2027.

Erasmus said he preferred to have a captain who was based in South Africa – “it would be great to give the guy a call and spend the weekend together to discuss plans” – but he needed to know whether it was “doable” for Kolisi to continue in the role.

Erasmus said he had a good idea of which players would remain in contention for the 2027 World Cup defence, but added that older players remained part of his short-term plans.

“We know exactly which players we think can last another year and we have given them specific tasks to help the youngsters before they leave here,” he said.

‘Need to evolve’ 

The Springboks open their 2024 campaign with a match against Wales at Twickenham in London on June 22.

They then have a two-match home series against Ireland in Pretoria on July 6 and Durban on July 13.

Erasmus said he would call on his most experienced players for the match between the teams ranked one and two in the world.

Ireland were the only team to beat the Springboks during the World Cup, winning an epic battle 13-8 in Paris.

“We haven’t beaten Ireland since 2016 so we want to rectify that,” said Erasmus.

Erasmus said new Springbok assistant coaches Tony Brown (attack) and Jerry Flannery (defence) would bring new thinking to the team.

“As we said before last year’s tournament there was no way we would be successful if we kept doing things in the same way. We need to evolve our game once more as teams will have looked at how we play and how they think they can stop us.”

Former All Black Brown said he jumped at the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting players in the world.

“When Rassie phoned, I immediately said ‘yes’,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with the players to see what we can do to find those little things that we can add to our attacking plans. If we get our coaching right the Springboks will be a really dominant force.”

Flannery, a former Ireland international, who has previously worked with Erasmus at Munster in Ireland, said he was impressed with his first interactions with the players at a recent alignment camp.

“Watching the players’ eyes and the way they focused when the coaches were speaking tells me they really want to be there.”

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