Springbok captaincy debate: How about Ruan Nortjé?

With some locks in the Bok set-up nearing retirement, getting Bulls skipper Ruan Nortjé in with the leadership group can result in them grooming him to take over the SA captaincy. Photo: BackpagePix

With some locks in the Bok set-up nearing retirement, getting Bulls skipper Ruan Nortjé in with the leadership group can result in them grooming him to take over the SA captaincy. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 14, 2024

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Rassie Erasmus was not definitive this week about who he had in mind for the Springboks’ captaincy in 2024.

There is a strong case for double World Cup-winning leader Siya Kolisi to continue as the Bok skipper, with the form he is currently in at French club Racing 92.

But Erasmus hinted that although Kolisi is still keen to represent South Africa, it’s not a made-out case that he will be captaining the side up to the next World Cup in 2027 in Australia.

So, a change in leadership can still happen.

Independent Newspapers looks at a few contenders who could take over from the inspirational Kolisi…

Eben Etzebeth

The Bok lock has stood in for Kolisi a couple of times, and has matured over the years to become one of the leaders in the squad.

Erasmus can count on him to take the leadership role if Kolisi is not available.

It will probably not happen this year, but looking ahead to 2027, Etzebeth can become that long-term option.

He has matured as a player, and when he had to stand in, he did so excellently.

Bongi Mbonambi

Another captain who succeeded when he led the team. But the big question will be if he is making it to 2027 … Judging by the number of hookers the Boks had at their first alignment camp, Mbonambi might not.

His communication with international refs is on point, and like Etzebeth, he does more of the talking with his playing style. He is definitely another big option over the next couple of seasons.

Lukhanyo Am

He’s been tipped as someone who can follow in Kolisi’s footsteps and could become a long-term option for the Springboks, looking at 2027.

But to have their captain in the thick of things among the forwards will likely be a priority for Erasmus and his management.

Still, Am will be a crucial voice in the set-up over the next couple of seasons, and it won’t be a surprise if South Africa look to him.

Ruan Nortjé

Yes, he only has one Test cap behind his name, but after a couple of good seasons for the Bulls, and some locks in the national set-up nearing retirement, getting Nortjé in with the leadership group can result in them grooming him to take over.

He had a tough time as Bulls captain, but that will only assist with his growth, and those lessons will stand him in good stead on the international scene.

Salmaan Moerat

He’s a former Junior Bok captain and the leader at the Stormers, and if it wasn’t for an injury last year, he probably would’ve had a World Cup title behind his name.

Although still a youngster in the Springbok set-up, Moerat has shown his leadership qualities.

And if he stays injury-free, he should be groomed, just like Nortjé, with a view of taking over the captaincy in the not-so-distant future if his development goes according to plan.

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