Kolisi to captain Springboks against Ireland – Erasmus

Siya Kolisi in action for the Springboks. File photo

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus said on Wednesday that Siya Kolisi would captain the Springboks in a two-Test home series against Ireland during July.

There had been speculation that the France-based loose forward might be stripped of the role as the captain of the national team has always played in South Africa.

“I would always love to have a captain locally based because he can hop on a flight and we can have a weekend together and plan and work on stuff,” Erasmus had said this year.

However, Erasmus told a press briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday that Kolisi would skipper the 2023 Rugby World Cup winners for the highly anticipated series with the Irish.

“Siya will be captain,” Erasmus said as he looked forward to the clash of rugby titans, with South Africa ranked first and Ireland second in the world.

Ireland beat South Africa in the pool stage of the 2023 World Cup in France, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals by New Zealand, who lost to the Springboks in the final.

Kolisi was not available for a one-off Test with Wales last weekend because the match fell outside the international window and Paris club Racing92 were not obliged to release players.

Fellow loose forward Pieter-Stephi du Toit took over the captaincy and led the Springboks to a 41-13 victory in a warm-up match for the Ireland series.

Responding to recent criticism of the condition of Kolisi by Racing92 owner Jacky Lorenzetti, Erasmus said “Siya is fit — he is not fat”.

After Racing92 had been knocked out of the French Top 14 championship at the quarter-final stage by Bordeaux-Begles, Lorenzetti said the Springbok was “invisible”.

“He put on a few kilos, lost his form and yesterday he was invisible,” Lorenzetti told specialist website Rugbyrama.

“At back-row we had been used to seeing an ultra-present warrior like Wenceslas Lauter. For now, Siya is not making us forget him,” added the club owner.

“The break was harmful to him,” Lorenzetti said of a mid-season hand injury sustained by Kolisi that required surgery.

Kolisi moved to France late last year after leading the Springboks to back-to-back World Cup titles having defeated England in the 2019 final in Japan.

He became the first black Test captain of South Africa in 2018, skippering his country to a thrilling win over England in Johannesburg after trailing by 21 points during the first half.

Kolisi, Du Toit and Duane Vermeulen formed a formidable back row in the World Cup finals against England and, four years later, New Zealand.

Vermeulen retired after the 2023 triumph at the Stade de France, but Kolisi and Du Toit are set to start in the first Test against Ireland in Pretoria on July 6.

Ireland arrived in Johannesburg on Wednesday to prepare for the series.

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