Coach Jacques Nienaber and Director of Rugby Johan Erasmus are confident Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi can make it to and perform at the World Cup with limited game time.
Kolisi is currently on a stringent rehabilitation regime after undergoing surgery at the end of April to repair a partial tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee – an injury he suffered while playing for the Sharks against Ireland’s Munster.
The Bok coach was not willing to divulge any ‘medical information’ on the skipper, but said he feels Kolisi is ‘on track’ to recover in time for the World Cup.
“He is hitting his markers,” Nienaber said of the loose forward’s rehabilitation process.
Asked by @rugby365com about a possible deadline for Kolisi’s return, Nienaber said that depends on Kolisi continuing to ‘tick his markers’.
“Do we think he will be available for the World Cup?
“Yes, we do!”
He pointed out that Kolisi did not partake in many Rugby Championship matches in 2019 either, when he was also recovering from a knee injury.
“We played him off the bench [in the final round of the 2019 Rugby Championship] against Argentina [at Loftus Versfeld in August] and his first [Test] start was the [World Cup] warm-up match against Japan [in Saitama in early September],” the coach said.
“Siyamthanda is a guy who has done it before.
“We will give him as much time as possible, because history has shown that he is a guy that doesn’t need to play Test matches before a World Cup.
“He can come in, slot in and he can produce performances.”
(Article continues below interview …)
South Africa’s Director of Rugby Johan Erasmus echoed similar sentiments to the coach, saying he will NOT be replaced as captain.
“We will have stand-in captains,” he said of the Rugby Championship and World Cup warm-up matches.
He added that they are hoping – given how he is hitting his rehabilitation markers – that he could play in one of the World Cup warm-up matches.
“Even if he is not 100 percent ready by the Scotland Test [in the opening round] it is a long way to the Final of the World Cup,” Erasmus said.
“Being our captain, having been there and done that, it is the one player who can do it as he did at the previous World Cup.
“We are fairly confident that he will go to the World Cup.”
Kolisi, Springbok No.851, will be 32 by the time the World Cup rolls around on September 8.
He made his Bok debut against Scotland in Nelspruit in June 2013 and the last of his 75 Tests was against England at Twickenham in November.
Springbok 2023 fixtures:
Saturday, 8 July – v Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July – v New Zealand (Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July – v Argentina (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
World Cup warm-up fixture
Saturday, 5 August – v Argentina (Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)
Saturday, 19 August – v Wales (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – v New Zealand (Twickenham, London)
World Cup pool fixtures
Sunday, 10 September – v Scotland (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – v Tonga (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)
Weekend of 14/15 October – quarterfinals
Weekend of 21/22 October – semifinals
Saturday, 28 October – Final